Encouraging Wildlife through Biodiversity

Farmland Birds

We plan to plant over 3 hectares of winter bird food this coming spring which will provide a much need source of feed for native farmland birds through the winter months. Yareal Llanforda will also be taking part in the farmland bird count, to monitor and track species of native birds on our farms.

1.5t of bird feed will be fed out on Llanforda Estate to support native farmland birds throughout the winter. This will work alongside the shooting activity on the estate. Almost 1 hectare of bumble bird mix will be sown in the autumn months, which will contain at least 6 flower species and 6 seed-bearing crops once established.

During the growing season there will be an abundant supply of pollen and nectar-rich flowers which will provide important food sources for farmland birds such as tree sparrows, and a range of nectar feeding insects, such as butterflies and bumblebees. The bumble bird mixture will need to be resown every 2 years to maintain seed and flower populations.

(Also see our information sheet on the birdlife spotted at our estates).

Soil Health

With increasing interest in carbon, soil health and climate change, and the Government’s targets for the reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions, we have started to look at this issue in greater depth. We have started to take soil samples to get an idea of the organic matter (carbon) levels in our soils.

The main reason for soil sampling is to get a baseline measurement and then look at ways to improve the levels of our organic matter. There are many ways to do this using manures, sludge, compost, etc. and by avoiding bare soils so the use of cover crops over winter, chopping the straw, having grass and livestock in the rotation, reducing synthetic inputs such as sprays and fertilisers.

Reduction in cultivations will also impact on the loss of carbon dioxide from soils. Nitrogen fertilisers are a major issue when it comes to the effects on emissions and greenhouse gases so careful targeting of such inputs will continue to be important. Improving the soils and increasing the organic matter will improve the soil structure, water holding capacity, water cleanliness and resilience to extremes in weather and also improve crop performance.

Natural Habitat

We strive to establish the balance between managing the natural habitat to keep our estates and farms neat and tidy and leaving the habitat in its natural state to enhance the ecology of the setting.

Whilst we actively manage invasive non-native species such as laurel, we have deliberately left fallen trees and log piles because thousands of invertebrates including include beetles, hoverflies, flies, parasitic wasps, moths, bugs, sawflies and spiders rely on deadwood, which in turn provide food for a whole host of other animals.

In these untouched areas vegetation and undergrowth are also able to flourish including a carpet of snowdrops early in the year and of bluebells in the spring as well as a variety of uncommon ferns.

(Also see our information sheet on the benefits of leaving fallen trees).

Woodland & Orchard Management

We work with Flintshire Woodlands, our woodland management advisors, to enhance the management of the woodland and also various fruit orchards across the estates. They have produced a woodland management plan which establishes a clear long-term strategy. This includes a felling and harvesting plan as well as replanting of woodland. The replanting is based on an element of both hardwoods and softwoods which will give a traditional look to the woodland.

A programme of activities is planned each year including stocking level surveys, tree replacement estimates for restocking, thinning works and a tree safety inspection.

(Also see our information sheet on the ancient trees of the Llanforda Park).

Owl Boxes

We have a range of nesting boxes sited around our farms and estates suitable for specific species such as owls, kestrels, birds and bats. The haunting, magical sound of an evening owl call isn’t the only benefit of attracting these nocturnal creatures to our land. Owls dine on mice and other rodents as well as large insects that can wreak havoc on our crops.

Farmers can minimise their use of pesticides to by inviting rodent and insect-eating owls onto their properties. The breeding season runs from around mid-March through mid-May and a family of barn owls is thought to eat an amazing several thousand rodents during a nesting season, with the young eating two to four rodents a night!

Ponds

Of all the habitats you can create to help wildlife, a pond is one of the most effective and reinstating and creating ponds has become a feature of our estates plan. Farm ponds can provide food, cover and nesting habitat for a variety of wildlife species including amphibians, reptiles, fish, birds, and mammals. Farm ponds also increase the aesthetic quality of a landscape that may, in turn, increase associated property values.

A pond provides essential drinking and bathing water for birds and mammals. If you plant a range of plant species around the edge, you’ll encourage an even. greater diversity of wildlife.

(To find out more about the historic ponds and waterways at Llanforda, also see our information sheet with the History).

Hedgerow Management

We manage 21,840 meters of hedgerow across the Llanforda and Bryn Tanat Estates, plus 4,375 meters at Longslow and a further 11,653 meters at Berwick, which we manage as part of our farming agreement with our landlords.

We will now aim to cut each hedge every other year to maintain nesting and feeding habitats for farmland birds over winter and the breeding period.

Hedges which have roadside frontage or are adjacent to public access will be cut and managed annually to maintain health and safety and general appearance. Some of the hedges between Llanforda and Bryn Tanat are starting to show signs of age therefore we will be using government grants, which will allow us to fill in the older parts of the hedges with young plants and encourage new growth and maintain nesting habitats.

Renewables

The process of anaerobic digestion uses bacteria to break down slurry, producing a digestate and bio-gas.

We work closely with the anaerobic digester unit which utilises our cattle slurry to produce energy which in turn produces digestate.  This is spread on the fields and is an organic fertiliser containing the nutrients necessary for modern farming, making it better for crop productivity, yield and enhancement of soil health.

It is estimated to release up to 7% fewer emissions compared to slurry that has not been bio-gas fermented. The bio-gas can be used as a source of energy for electricity, heating or transport.

Wildflower Margins

2 hectares of flower rich margins are planned to be planted under the new environmental land management scheme which Yareal will be engaging with on an entry level in the first instance.

Flower rich margins provide pollinators and various types of insects and invertebrates with both food and habitat, particularly over summer months.

Permanent Grassland

We will be manging 103 hectares of permanent grassland across the Bryn Tanat and Llanforda estates, as well as 34 hectares at Berwick. This includes some of the historic parklands of Llanforda, as well as the scheduled ancient monuments which Yareal Llanforda are custodians of.

Managing grassland in this way is a non-intensive system where minimal artificial fertiliser and herbicides are used. This results in a mixed species grassland that will contain some flowering grasses and wildflowers, at a variety of vegetation heights. This will also provide nectar and shelter for invertebrates and increase food supply for birds throughout the year.

The grassland will be used primarily to graze youngstock.

Enhanced over Winter Stubble

Over winter stubble will mean leaving fields untouched after summer harvest work. The stubble will give naturally occurring arable plants an opportunity to thrive.

Pollinating insects and farmland birds will use the stubble in the winter and spring months to feed and nest. Soil erosion can also be reduced by leaving stubble over, as the previous season’s crop roots remain in place, and help to provide stability during winter.

We will be utilising this method of farming in areas of our cropping land which are at risk of soil erosion.

Soil Improvement Crops, Herb-Rich Swards & Legumes

Herb-rich swards and legumes will play a key part in our cropping plan in Shropshire. A growing sward of 29 hectares with an abundance of legumes and herbs are suitable for productive milking cattle but also provide habitat and food for invertebrates.

Legumes also help to improve soil structure and water infiltration. Less nitrogen and artificial fertiliser will be required which will help to reduce our carbon footprint.

Farmland Birds

We plan to plant over 3 hectares of winter bird food this coming spring which will provide a much need source of feed for native farmland birds through the winter months. Yareal Llanforda will also be taking part in the farmland bird count, to monitor and track species of native birds on our farms.

1.5t of bird feed will be fed out on Llanforda Estate to support native farmland birds throughout the winter. This will work alongside the shooting activity on the estate. Almost 1 hectare of bumble bird mix will be sown in the autumn months, which will contain at least 6 flower species and 6 seed-bearing crops once established.

During the growing season there will be an abundant supply of pollen and nectar-rich flowers which will provide important food sources for farmland birds such as tree sparrows, and a range of nectar feeding insects, such as butterflies and bumblebees. The bumble bird mixture will need to be resown every 2 years to maintain seed and flower populations.

(Also see our information sheet on the birdlife spotted at our estates).

Soil Health

With increasing interest in carbon, soil health and climate change, and the Government’s targets for the reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions, we have started to look at this issue in greater depth. We have started to take soil samples to get an idea of the organic matter (carbon) levels in our soils.

The main reason for soil sampling is to get a baseline measurement and then look at ways to improve the levels of our organic matter. There are many ways to do this using manures, sludge, compost, etc. and by avoiding bare soils so the use of cover crops over winter, chopping the straw, having grass and livestock in the rotation, reducing synthetic inputs such as sprays and fertilisers.

Reduction in cultivations will also impact on the loss of carbon dioxide from soils. Nitrogen fertilisers are a major issue when it comes to the effects on emissions and greenhouse gases so careful targeting of such inputs will continue to be important. Improving the soils and increasing the organic matter will improve the soil structure, water holding capacity, water cleanliness and resilience to extremes in weather and also improve crop performance.

Natural Habitat

We strive to establish the balance between managing the natural habitat to keep our estates and farms neat and tidy and leaving the habitat in its natural state to enhance the ecology of the setting.

Whilst we actively manage invasive non-native species such as laurel, we have deliberately left fallen trees and log piles because thousands of invertebrates including include beetles, hoverflies, flies, parasitic wasps, moths, bugs, sawflies and spiders rely on deadwood, which in turn provide food for a whole host of other animals.

In these untouched areas vegetation and undergrowth are also able to flourish including a carpet of snowdrops early in the year and of bluebells in the spring as well as a variety of uncommon ferns.

(Also see our information sheet on the benefits of leaving fallen trees).

Woodland & Orchard Management

We work with Flintshire Woodlands, our woodland management advisors, to enhance the management of the woodland and also various fruit orchards across the estates. They have produced a woodland management plan which establishes a clear long-term strategy. This includes a felling and harvesting plan as well as replanting of woodland. The replanting is based on an element of both hardwoods and softwoods which will give a traditional look to the woodland.

A programme of activities is planned each year including stocking level surveys, tree replacement estimates for restocking, thinning works and a tree safety inspection.

(Also see our information sheet on the ancient trees of the Llanforda Park).

Owl Boxes

We have a range of nesting boxes sited around our farms and estates suitable for specific species such as owls, kestrels, birds and bats. The haunting, magical sound of an evening owl call isn’t the only benefit of attracting these nocturnal creatures to our land. Owls dine on mice and other rodents as well as large insects that can wreak havoc on our crops.

Farmers can minimise their use of pesticides to by inviting rodent and insect-eating owls onto their properties. The breeding season runs from around mid-March through mid-May and a family of barn owls is thought to eat an amazing several thousand rodents during a nesting season, with the young eating two to four rodents a night!

Ponds

Of all the habitats you can create to help wildlife, a pond is one of the most effective and reinstating and creating ponds has become a feature of our estates plan. Farm ponds can provide food, cover and nesting habitat for a variety of wildlife species including amphibians, reptiles, fish, birds, and mammals. Farm ponds also increase the aesthetic quality of a landscape that may, in turn, increase associated property values.

A pond provides essential drinking and bathing water for birds and mammals. If you plant a range of plant species around the edge, you’ll encourage an even. greater diversity of wildlife.

(To find out more about the historic ponds and waterways at Llanforda, also see our information sheet with the History).

Hedgerow Management

We manage 21,840 meters of hedgerow across the Llanforda and Bryn Tanat Estates, plus 4,375 meters at Longslow and a further 11,653 meters at Berwick, which we manage as part of our farming agreement with our landlords.

We will now aim to cut each hedge every other year to maintain nesting and feeding habitats for farmland birds over winter and the breeding period.

Hedges which have roadside frontage or are adjacent to public access will be cut and managed annually to maintain health and safety and general appearance. Some of the hedges between Llanforda and Bryn Tanat are starting to show signs of age therefore we will be using government grants, which will allow us to fill in the older parts of the hedges with young plants and encourage new growth and maintain nesting habitats.

Renewables

The process of anaerobic digestion uses bacteria to break down slurry, producing a digestate and bio-gas.

We work closely with the anaerobic digester unit which utilises our cattle slurry to produce energy which in turn produces digestate.  This is spread on the fields and is an organic fertiliser containing the nutrients necessary for modern farming, making it better for crop productivity, yield and enhancement of soil health.

It is estimated to release up to 7% fewer emissions compared to slurry that has not been bio-gas fermented. The bio-gas can be used as a source of energy for electricity, heating or transport.

Wildflower Margins

2 hectares of flower rich margins are planned to be planted under the new environmental land management scheme which Yareal will be engaging with on an entry level in the first instance.

Flower rich margins provide pollinators and various types of insects and invertebrates with both food and habitat, particularly over summer months.

Permanent Grassland

We will be manging 103 hectares of permanent grassland across the Bryn Tanat and Llanforda estates, as well as 34 hectares at Berwick. This includes some of the historic parklands of Llanforda, as well as the scheduled ancient monuments which Yareal Llanforda are custodians of.

Managing grassland in this way is a non-intensive system where minimal artificial fertiliser and herbicides are used. This results in a mixed species grassland that will contain some flowering grasses and wildflowers, at a variety of vegetation heights. This will also provide nectar and shelter for invertebrates and increase food supply for birds throughout the year.

The grassland will be used primarily to graze youngstock.

Enhanced over Winter Stubble

Over winter stubble will mean leaving fields untouched after summer harvest work. The stubble will give naturally occurring arable plants an opportunity to thrive.

Pollinating insects and farmland birds will use the stubble in the winter and spring months to feed and nest. Soil erosion can also be reduced by leaving stubble over, as the previous season’s crop roots remain in place, and help to provide stability during winter.

We will be utilising this method of farming in areas of our cropping land which are at risk of soil erosion.

Soil Improvement Crops, Herb-Rich Swards & Legumes

Herb-rich swards and legumes will play a key part in our cropping plan in Shropshire. A growing sward of 29 hectares with an abundance of legumes and herbs are suitable for productive milking cattle but also provide habitat and food for invertebrates.

Legumes also help to improve soil structure and water infiltration. Less nitrogen and artificial fertiliser will be required which will help to reduce our carbon footprint.