In 2023 INCC were approached by new landowners in the Vale of Glamorgan who had just purchased a 77ha farm. Until relatively recently, it was a mixed sheep and cattle farm comprising of agriculturally improved grazed pasture and sileage fields along with small areas of deciduous woodland and dense hedgerows.

Grassy margin around arable field

The landowners are passionate about wildlife and asked INCC to carry out a habitat survey of the site and to recommend how best to improve the site to maximise its biodiversity, whilst ensuring it remains a viable farm business.

Habitat surveys in 2023

Not long before the new owners bought the property, some of the fields were converted to arable crops. These have been intensively managed, but the land still supports characteristic species including Brown Hare and Yellowhammer.

Brown Hare in one of the farm’s arable fields

Previously the land has been intensively managed right up to the hedgerows, leaving little space for biodiversity apart from within the hedgerows themselves. Some of the management changes INCC recommended involved creating wide ‘buffer strips’ around the edges of the arable fields which would provide a refuge for Hares and other species, as well as food source for insects when the floral diversity starts to increase, potentially boosted by planting of native species. These insects will then help feed the farmland birds such as Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and the Yellowhammers.

Yellowhammer in a dense hedgerow at the farm

A general reduction or elimination of chemical inputs has also been recommended, but particularly along hedgerows and watercourses. While the majority of the land is to be maintained as farmland, albeit managed primarily with wildlife in mind, INCC has also recommended some sympathetic tree planting. These trees will be a carefully selected mix of native species, appropriate to the area and soil types. The trees will be planted in locations that are currently of low biodiversity value and in places that will improve the habitat connectivity across the site.

A variety of native species awaiting planting
Bridgend College students helping plant the trees

We are looking forward to working with the landowners in the years to come to monitor how the management changes are going and how the biodiversity is responding. Thanks to the owners for their passion and enthusiasm for the project, it’s an inspiring one to be a part of.