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Meeting Bees Needs in the Countryside: the Jordans Farm Partnership

Posted: Thursday 20th July 2017 by rswt

Bees on borageChris Gomersall/2020VISION

Much has been said in recent years about the decline of our wild bee populations - and for good reason.

Jordans farms are proof that financially viable agriculture and wildlife friendly land management can go hand in hand.

It’s no secret that bees and other pollinators are under threat, with numbers declining and areas of natural habitat shrinking. Two species of bumblebee even became extinct in the UK in the twentieth century. Changes in the way we use land especially for farming have led to:

  • Loss of bee-friendly habitat, such as wildflower meadows and hedgerows
  • Fragmentation of habitat, for example by the removal of hedgerows to increase field size
  • Increased use of herbicides to remove weeds and insecticides to stop damage to crops

All of these changes make it harder for bees to survive. This is why it is so important that some forward-thinking farmers are trying to help reverse this trend and do their bit to provide habitat and encourage bees to thrive on their land.

Farmers who grow oats for Jordans Cereals are part of the Jordans Farm Partnership - a unique collaboration of Jordans farmers, The Wildlife Trusts, Linking Environment And Farming and the Prince’s Countryside Fund.

Working closely with their local Wildlife Trust Farm Advisor the farmers on the 42 farms are encouraging bees and other pollinators by:

  • Creating flower rich field margins to help provide reliable and abundant supplies of pollen and nectar
  • Establishing grassy margins along field boundaries which are ideal shelter and nest sites for some species of bee and other insects
  • Allowing hedgerows to grow and spill over which, as well as providing shelter, deliver a wonderful source of nectar and pollen when the hedgerows are flowering

But it’s not just the bees that benefit. Managing land for bees and pollinators can also help support a whole host of other wildlife. Increased numbers of insects will provide a food source for farmland birds; grassy field margins provide ideal habitat for voles which in turn provide the food source for larger animals like barn owls; in-field ponds, enhanced by buffering with grassy margins, reduce run off into rivers and streams and can provide a healthier water source. This is beneficial, not only for bees, but also for other animals like the rapidly declining turtle dove that require water to enable them to produce ‘pigeon milk’ for their young.

By recreating habitat and connecting areas of habitats on their farms with the wider countryside, the farmers in the Jordans Farm Partnership are helping establish a mix of connected habitats. When a cereal field with a margin of wildflowers lies next door to an ancient hedgerow or woodland, wildlife can move freely.

Despite this commitment to conservation, the farmers still operate financially viable farms and are proof that agriculture and land management to benefit wildlife can go hand in hand.

Watch this short film about the Jordans Farm Partnership




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