The summer is finally here and the farm team is flat out with activity across the agricultural sphere.
One of the things that you will see whilst walking around Cranford are the wide 6 metre strips that surround our Arable fields. Whether it is wheat, maize or oilseed rape growing in the field we have planted a wide strip of grass and wildflowers around the crop. This provides a range of benefits both for the farm and the wildlife that make their habitat in the local environs.
Walking through the strips will reveal their more immediate ecological benefits. They are simply abuzz with insects from bees and butterflies to grasshoppers and beetles. All of these make massive contributions not only to the wild ecology but also to the farm's ecology with pollination of plants. The thick undergrowth also provide ideal habitats for small mammals such as shrews and harvest mice, which have been identified as cornerstone species for the support of apex predators such as owls, hawks and stoats.
There are also many less obvious ecological benefits. A key concern for farmers at the moment is soil conditioning. We are tenants over the countyside's greatest asset it's soil. Soil erosion and nutrient leaching is a major problem across parts of the country with millions of tons of topsoil being washed into our rivers and lakes. By ensuring that the grass strips are not driven on and so compacted the strips act as huge sponges absorbing any run off from the field and holding on to any water that would otherwise wash into the nearest ditch.