Wildlife on Riverford’s farms
We’d be stuck without the wildlife on our farms. Bees buzz through our tomato and runner bean flowers to pollinate the crops, earthworms aerate our soils and, along with a complex network of micoflora and fauna, release nutrients from the soil so that our vegetables flourish. Organic farming also depends on a diverse ecosystem to maintain soil fertility and to keep pests under control naturally. We encourage nature's own predators by maintaining hedgerows, woodland copses and creating open, 'wild' field margins. We also rotate the crops planted each season, to prevent disease building up in the soil, to keep our soils fertile and to avoid the need for chemicals.
It’s not just about the fact that we need biodiversity in order to farm successfully; we also think that producing food should be done with respect to wildlife and the environment. You can read the more about how much better organic farming is for wildlife on the Soil Association website here. There’s lots of scientific evidence to back it up.
Here’s a little bit about wildlife on Riverford’s farms:
Surprise visitors: Now and then we come across something unexpected in our crops! Our harvest manager Ed recently had such a surprise, as you’ll see in our two minute video.
RSPB survey: We often have wildlife charities do surveys on our farms. In 2014, the RSPB counted over 70 species of birds on our farm in Cambridgeshire. This included nine out of the ten arable farmland bird species of particular conservation concern to the RSPB: corn buntings, grey partridge, lapwing, linnet, reed bunting, skylark, tree sparrow, yellowhammer and yellow wagtail.
Our resident tree sparrow flock: Year round, Riverford staff have the company of a flock of tree sparrows that join in at lunchtime! They nest outside the staff canteen and feed on any crumbs that fall under the picnic benches. They get especially friendly in the winter, when some will even eat from the hand.
Bats, bees, hares & butterflies: Anyone who has been on one of our farm walks will have seen how our fields are full of life. Solitary bees, hares, rare butterflies and bumblebees all have found a home here, and we also have a thriving colony of rare Horseshoe bats that love the outbuildings, pastureland and tall hedgerows on the farm.
Riverford’s Big Worm Dig: Earthworms are so important to organic farming, so much so that we have created an earthworm survey in collaboration with experts at the University of Central Lancashire. Get involved at www.riverford.co.uk/bigwormdig. Kids love it!