Project Update (May 2020)
It has been almost six months since our last newsletter, and lots has been happening, so we thought you might like a quick run-down on our latest progress. View the project update presentation here or read on for a quick summary of key findings so far:
Hedgerow and tree planting on dairy farms is unlikely to affect establishment or national spread following an incursion of bluetongue disease
The majority of Nestle farms had high levels of liver fluke, but farms that had fenced watercourses as part of the Nestle scheme contained fewer infected snails that could act as vectors for liver fluke
Nuisance and biting dipteran fly species and numbers associated with a range of ages of hedgerows will be investigated in summer 2020
Carbon sequestration under hedgerows was significantly higher than adjacent fields, and increases with age of hedge
Hedgerows soils are generally drier and less compact than adjacent field and water infiltration and percolation are enhanced beneath hedges other than new hedge
Hedgerows promote biodiversity; there was almost three times the amount of broadleaf plant cover and species richness in hedgerows compared to adjacent field edges, with cover and species richness increasing with age of hedge
Hedgerows soils are drier and less compact than adjacent field and water infiltration and percolation are enhanced beneath hedges. This suggest that hedgerow soils can enhance water storage during rainstorms which may reduce downstream flood risk (on farm infiltration measurements postponed to next year)
Income from Nestle's milk premium scheme in Cumbria is providing stability and resilience to farm businesses and farmers prefer its simplicity, flexibility and ease of planning and reporting compared to public agri-environment schemes
However, farmers still have concerns about the burden of planning and reporting, timing of deadlines and some costs that are not covered by the scheme
Integration of schemes like this with regional carbon markets could enable landscape scale projects with a wider range of investors, and the project is exploring how private markets for ecosystem services could be integrated, as well as considering the interface between these and public agri-environment schemes (see new project report on Integrating Natural Capital Schemes).
View the full update presentation here to see associated images and graphs:
Do get in touch if you have any questions.