December on the Farm (2020)

Wildflower meadows on the Barrow Hill Footpath

Richard Fonge writes:

This is the second consecutive wet December, with the ground at saturation point. More planting was done in the autumn, than last year, but there is still much to be done, as can be seen up the concrete road.

Last month I briefly outlined agriculture development through the seventies and eighties, finishing with the consequences of over production. All arable producers had to take 10% of their land out of production, reducing to 5% after a few years, and there was a compensation payment. You could if you so wished put the whole of your arable land into the scheme, and thereby enhance the Environmental impact, subject to guidelines laid down by government. With the growing industrialisation of farming, there became quite rightly, concerns about the destruction of habitat and fauna, although it was sometimes forgotten that the building of houses, by passes, motorways et al were also damaging nature to an equal degree. By the noughties Environmental schemes were introduced, and farmers and landowners embraced them, to go along with the new payments. Margins of grassland were left round fields, beetle banks made, wild life mixtures planted, trees planted etc. Much good Conservation work, a lot of it unseen has been done over the last twenty years. On the Barrow Hill walk, you go through two wild flower meadows, rich in their diversity of plants, and past two woodlands of a young age, with strips of game and nectar mixes to feed a wide variety of birds and provide cover for the game birds. Pheasant and partridge shooting are an intrinsic part of rural life.

As we leave Europe new policies are being proposed, for farming and the countryside, which will obviously have an impact on the countryside we admire each day. Let us hope a balance is struck between food producing and conservation. Always remembering that you can’t eat the view.

We are so lucky in these difficult times to live in a village surrounded by unspoilt countryside to enjoy and relax in, albeit we are having to suffer the great scar of HS2.

A happy New Year to all.

Richard Fonge



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