Farmland and agri-environment
Wild seeds are the means by which lost diversity and habitat function can be delivered back on to farmland and restore the countryside.
The seeds we offer are the key to restoration for creating habitats which provide the essential resources (especially year-round food, shelter and nesting places) that wild pollinators, birds and other farm wildlife need to survive and breed successfully.
We offer a wide range of options for sowing to achieve Countryside Stewardship scheme objectives such as:
- Creation of species-rich grassland including wild flowers
- Enhancement of existing grassland with wild flowers
- Creation of grassland rich in pollen and nectar
- Creating tussocky grassland and beetle-banks.
- Sowing buffer strips, margins and field corners
Emorsgate seed mixtures: The seed mixtures we offer in our standard range offer the best possible options for sowing diversity.
Farmland & Stewardship mixtures: We also offer an alternative range of mixtures specifically designed for farmland applications where constraints of scale and budget are important.
Bespoke mixtures: We can also advise on and quote to supply seeds tailored to your particular requirements or to the specifications provided by your farm advisor.
Why do we need sow wild seed on farms?
After the food shortages and rationing of the second world war came a concerted push to maximise agricultural production in the UK through the intensification of farming and the use of fertilisers and agro-chemicals. This policy was backed by government grants to bring marginal land ( wildlife habitats) into production.
This intensification bought farming into conflict with wildlife and resulted in the now well documented catastrophic decline in biodiversity of both plants and animals in the countryside. The consequences of industrial farm intensification went deeper than just loss of wild plants and animals, it affected landscape quality and ecosystem function - threatening the sustainability of farming itself.
Fortunately this state of affairs has been acknowledged by government agencies and by the farming community and action is being taken. Government through schemes like countyside stewardship, conservation groups such as the RSPB and wildlife trusts and farmer led groups like FWAG and the Game and Wildlife Conservancy are all working hard to put farming and wildlife back to a balanced co-existence.
Many early initiatives sought to reverse past damage by simply removing or restricting farming practices that were the cause of the declines. In some cases this is all that is needed; as in the recovery of birds of prey after DDT was banned. For less mobile plant species, whose decimated wild populations have become fragmented and isolated, stopping the application of artificial manures and herbicides is not by itself enough.
Grassland plant communities for example do not naturally regenerate as there are frequently no remnant populations of plants to act as an inoculum' and soil seed banks have long since decayed (grassland perennials unlike arable weeds do not generally maintain as long lived seed banks in the soil). Experiments where Dales meadows were returned to ‘traditional' management saw no real recovery in species diversity even after 15 years unless long distance plant distribution was facilitated by the sowing of seeds. Plants sit at the beginning of the natural food chain: once plant diversity is restored animal and microbial diversity can also return and ecosystem function can be restored.