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In your field: Kate Beavan - 'I’ve been unearthing some buried treasure'

Our yearlings are lambing well, apart from the occasional large single. We designed the lambing shed so we did not have far to go to reach a bonding pen, which helps immensely with reluctant first time mums.

Jim’s late grandfather told him once that while lambing a bunch of yearlings in the orchard of Plas Celyn (his home at the time), every apple tree had a yearling tethered to it with lambs at foot. We still prefer pens.

 

Since starting the new tree planting role, I have been putting together a ranking system.

 

At the top are organisations which put the farmer at the heart of nature recovery and understand the importance of food production and rural community.

 

At the bottom are organisations which seem to push their own agenda and continue to lack the communication skills and basic understanding of evidence-based management.

 

There are some great initiatives out there harnessing the knowledge and experience farmers have on environmental land management. They have grasped the importance of trust and collaboration to build a lasting legacy.

 

Alongside the agriculture white paper consulting on the future farm payments system, the Welsh environment minister has placed nitrate vulnerable zone restrictions on the whole of Wales after a vote against the motion was narrowly lost in the Sennedd last week.

 

Advice from National Resources Wales seems to have been ignored.

 

We are a part of the problem, but actions surely should be proportionate to the risk and targeted to areas where water quality improvements have been shown to be needed.

 

The worry is that not only could farming by calendar have detrimental environmental consequences, but this could also cause the loss of family farms who cannot shoulder the required additional costs.

 

I fear this is not going to deliver the outcomes they want to see.


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My Christmas present last year was a metal detector and I have been out unearthing buried treasure, to be fair mainly horseshoes so far, and am heartened by the number of ecosystem engineers we have on the farm, aka worms.

 

Did you know there are 27 species of worms in the UK all helping to mix organic matter into the soil, improving soil structure and water infiltration? In one acre of land, there can be more than a million of these hermaphrodites.

 

Alongside our abundant worm population there has been an increase in mole activity here and the traps are coming out this week.

 

To quote Charles Darwin: “There are few animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world than the earthworm.”

 

I am conducting worm counts alongside the hunt for buried treasure and, to quote Del Boy: “This time next year we’ll be millionaires.”

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