Farmcare, the UK’s leading rural business, is partnering with Buglife and Natural England to work on a three year joint project that aims to improve the quantity and quality of insect pollinator habitats across Kent and Sussex.
The partnership will see Farmcare receiving bespoke advice to build on current methods for improving insect pollinator populations. The rural business’ Highland Court Estate, which spans five fruit farms within a 12 mile radius in Kent, will be central to the project. Other Farmcare farms will also receive beneficial advice, whether in the form of a training event or online webinar to boost knowledge on pollinators and improving their habitats.
84% of EU crops benefit from insect pollination, so in addition to its environmental benefits, encouraging the right insects onto farms could increase the percentage of crop pollination and consequently yields.
Farmcare will be hosting training events to share learnings and knowledge with other farmers and landowners in the area. The Farmcare team will also promote the project through platforms like Twitter so that other farmers can gain from the advice from the project.
Katrina Swatton, Business Change Officer at Farmcare, said: ‘’We’re delighted to get behind this important project as the Farmcare team see ourselves as the custodians of the land we farm. Insect pollinators do a crucial job on farms and we’re keen to ensure that we support the quality of their habitats.’’
Part of Farmcare’s role will be providing practical farm guidance to the Buglife team to ensure it’s not just the insect populations that benefit, but farmers as well.
Buglife’s Laurie Jackson, said: ‘’It’s great to have Farmcare on board to test new habitat features that benefit pollinators, monitor pollinator populations and help spread the word across the farming community on how to best manage habitats in a way that complements farming practices.’’
Lord Gardiner, Defra spokesman in the House of Lords, said:
“Protecting our pollinators is a priority for this government; not only are they vital to the diversity of our environment, they also play a crucial role in food production.
“As part of Defra’s National Pollinator Strategy, our Landscapes for Wild Pollinators Initiative has already contributed £65,000 towards three important partnership projects. This project, between Farmcare, Natural England and Buglife, will play a key role in Sussex and Kent helping farmers and landowners create and protect crucial habitats and land management practices which will benefit pollinators.
“With a further £900 million available to farmers across England through the Countryside Stewardship Scheme up until 2020, this will help them play their central role in improving the quality of our natural environment.”
James Phillips, Natural England’s Project Manager for the Landscapes for Wild Pollinators Initiative said:
“This is an exciting opportunity to make a real difference for wild pollinators and farm wildlife. Through the project, we’ll be working with farmers and local communities and taking on board local knowledge on how best to deliver sustainable wildlife recovery across Sussex and Kent’s farmed landscapes.
“This project will build on the Countryside Stewardship Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife package to put in place the essential year-round life cycle resources that wild pollinators, farmland birds and other farm wildlife need to thrive.”