Factors Affecting Hedgerows

There has been a significant loss of hedgerows and decline in the length of hedgerows within the UK in the last 100 years. Factors which have contributed to this loss of hedgerows include;

  • A reduction in traditional hedgerow management practices.
  • Inappropriate management practices such as cutting hedgerows too frequently, or at the wrong time of year.
  • Unsuitable mechanised management of hedgerows which has led to over-trimming.
  • A lack of general management so that hedgerows and trees have not been restocked or replaced. 
  • Neglect of hedgerows so that they are left for many years without maintenance and therefore become too tall and gappy resulting in removal.
  • Felling of hedgerow trees without replacing them.
  • Poor maintenance of hedgerows, field margins, banks and ditches.
  • Replacement of hedgerows with other forms of fencing.
  • The use of herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers up to the base of the hedgerow which can result in damage to the structure of the hedgerow.
  • Spray drift from spraying crops with pesticides and fertilisers can damage the hedgerow.
  • Not fencing livestock away from the hedgerows results in livestock feeding on the hedges and animals damaging parts of the hedgerow.
  • Overstocking with livestock which again results in livestock damaging the hedges.
  • Arable specialisation removes the need for hedgerows.
  • The removal of hedgerows to enlarge field size and ease the use of enlarged farm machinery.
  • Ploughing up to the base of the hedgerow can result in the loss of marginal habitats and damage to the hedgerow.
  • Erosion or removal of hedgebanks due to agricultural practices or road widening can damage the hedgerows.
  • Perceptions of ‘tidy’ hedgerows and the need for a tidy countryside. Some view hedgerows left uncut for a year or two as poor land management.

Did you Know?

  • Hedgerows are protected by the Hedgerows Regulations 1997.
  • Permission is required before removing hedges that are at least 20m in length, over 30 years old and contain certain species of plant.
  • Some hedgerows are protected on the basis of their historic importance or wildlife value.

Farmers are working hard to manage and maintain their hedgerows so that the loss and decline of hedgerows and their associated wildlife does not continue. Click on the link to read about Managing Hedgerows.

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Dates For The Diary – Food And Farm Produce In The UK

Dates For The Diary

  • National Farmhouse Breakfast Week – 20th-26th January (2008).
  • National Potato Day – 28 January (2007).
  • Bramley Apple Week – 4th-11th February (2007).
  • National Chip Week – 12th-18th February (2007). 
  • British Bacon Education Week – 19th-25th February (2007).
  • Roast A British Chicken Weekend – 1st weekend in March.
  • National Bread Week – 7th-13th May (2007).
  • National BBQ Week – 28th May-3rd June (2007).
  • National Food Safety Week – 11th-17th June (2007).
  • A Month Of Taste –  16th September – 22nd October (2006).
  • British Food Fortnight – 22nd September – 7th October (2007).
  • British Egg Week – 9th-15th October (2006).
  • World Egg Day – 12th October (2007).
  • Sausage Week – 30th October – 5th November (2006).

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Accidents And Injuries In Farming

Health and safety on the farm is an important issue which has recently been re-highlighted with the tragic news reports (March 2007) of a 12 year old boy killed whilst driving a tractor, a man killed by a cow whilst tagging the cow’s calf and a man injured with a fractured spine whilst climbing into a grain silo.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) state that:

  • between 1994-2004 an average of 49 people per year have been killed as a result of farming and agriculture-related activities;
  • in 2004-2005 47 people were killed as a result of farming and agriculture-related activities;
  • in 2005-2006 45 people were killed as a result of farming and agriculture-related activities.

Whilst the number of fatal injuries are decreasing, the HSE highlights the fact that the agricultural industry has the highest incidence rates of any major industrial sector in the UK. Reasons for this stem from the inherently hazardous nature of the agricultural industry whereby farmer’s, employees, children and members of the public either work with or come into contact with potentially dangerous machinery, equipment, buildings, chemicals and livestock. The HSE point out that the main causes of accidents and fatal injuries in farming are generally related to:

  • transport;
  • falling from a height;
  • contact with livestock;
  • contact with moving machinery; and
  • being struck by moving or falling objects.

The agricultural industry needs to look at ways to promote and improve health and safety on our farms so that accidents and injuries can be reduced and avoided.

New approaches to health and safety introduced by HSE over the past few years include:

  • Safety and Health Awareness Days;
  • An electronic self assessment software package;
  • Land based Vocational Qualifications at NVQ levels 2, 3 & 4 in health and safety;
  • Targeted inspection campaigns; and
  • HSE’s agriculture e-bulletin, a regular email of news, information, advice and guidance on health and safety in agriculture.

The Health and Safety Executive believe that, “Health and safety is integral to good farm business management……. and what is now needed is for those in the industry……to promote risk awareness, risk assessment and….risk control.”

For more information relating to health and safety in farming and agriculture, then visit the HSE website. 

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The Year Of Food And Farming 2007-2008

The Year Of Food And Farming is a national initiative and is to be launched in September 2007 in the UK. It aims to give children an increased awareness of where their food comes from and give them the opportunities to become more involved in food preparation and production. It also aims to provide opportunities for learning more about the countryside and farming.

As a part-time teacher and farmer’s wife I have a great interest in this initiative. I am very keen to educate children in where their food comes from and to share my knowledge of farming and the countryside. As the Science Co-ordinator at a local Primary school, I am keen to develop the curriculum to include more opportunities for children to visit local farms, grow their own produce and prepare their own food. My school has just registered to take part in the 2007 Grow Your Own Potatoes project run by the British Potato Council. So I am looking forward to sampling the potatoes when we harvest them in June. Watch out for more information about the spuds on this site.

This website aims to provide information about farming and farm related food produce which can be used by schools to increase children’s awareness of food and farming.

The Year Of Food And Farming scheme is looking for individuals or organisations to give their support. If you are involved in teaching, farming, catering, food production, or horticulture, then you may be able to offer support. I aim to give my support and hope that you can too.

More information can be found on the Year Of Food And Farming website and the Farming and Countryside Education (FACE) website in the Links section of this website.

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National Chip Week In The UK 2007

National Chip Week has been held this week (12th-18th February 2007) in the UK.

Events have included;

  • Trying to set 5 different chip records in the Guiness Book Of Records.
  • 800 chip shops across the country promoting chips.
  • Creating positive press for chips with many articles and adverts being written and shown in magazines and on TV.

Chips

Chips are fried potatoes and homemade chips are great.

  1. Just peel your potatoes.
  2. Cut them into rectangular stick shapes, either thin or thick. Although sometimes I slice them into circular slices.
  3. Heat up a chip pan of vegetable oil.
  4. Add potato pieces to the chip basket.
  5. Put basket into the chip pan and fry the potatoes until they are crispy and golden brown.
  6. Take basket out of pan and drain well.
  7. Serve with your favourite food.

To celebrate National Chip Week my husband and I have enjoyed eating homemade chips as well as chips from our local chippy. But to pay homage to the chip, we have gastronomically experimented in the kitchen and extended the range of chips that can be served up at our meal times from just the wonderful potato chip to the sweet potato chip, butternut squash chip and the parsnip chip.

We decided to see which vegetables would make a good alternative to the potato chip. Into the chip pan went;

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Parsnips
  • Butternut Squash
  • Beetroot
  • Carrots

The results (based solely on our own opinions and of course our tastebuds!) were interesting;

  • Sweet potato chips are a great alternative to the potato chip they fry well and can be quite crispy, with a soft interior and a lovely sweet taste.
  • Parsnip chips are great they are very crispy and sweet tasting.
  • Butternut squash chips are a softer chip with a crispy coating and a subtle sweet taste.
  • Beetroot chips are also a softer chip with a crispy coating and a sweetish taste.
  • Carrot chips can be a little dried up.

My husband and I had great fun tasting our alternative chips and felt that frying parsnips, sweet potatoes and butternut squash would be a clever way of getting our niece and nephews to eat the vegetables that they won’t eat in the traditional way.

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Biosecurity – Protect Your Poultry From Bird Flu

With the news of an outbreak of bird flu of the H5N1 strain in Britain, it is important that the UK poultry farmers, small-holders and henkeepers have the correct biosecurity measures in place.

  1. Food containers should be kept inside or protected from wild bird contact.
  2. Water containers should be kept indoors and protected from wild bird contact.
  3. Supply fresh water daily to avoid contamination of water.
  4. Make sure feed is clean and not contaminated with soil and bird faeces.
  5. Spilt feed should be cleaned up as it attracts wild birds and vermin.
  6. Buy bagged up feed that has not had contact with wild birds or vermin.
  7. Store feed in containers that are protected from contact with wild birds, vermin and pets.
  8. The wire netting on poultry huts and runs should be small enough to prevent wild birds entering the huts or runs.
  9. Disinfect equipment and machinery regularly to stop the spread of bacteria and infection.
  10. Disinfect footwear and gloves after contact with the poultry and wear clean overalls to reduce the spread of bacteria.
  11. Always wear protective clothing and gloves when cleaning and disinfecting the huts, equipment and machinery.
  12. Always wash your hands when you have contact with the poultry.
  13. Look out for signs of illness in the birds and consult your vet.
  14. Limit and control access to the poultry in order to minimise the risk to visitors and minimise the spread of bacteria.
  15. Protect poultry from contact with vermin, wild birds, pets and other animals.
  16. Keep property and poultry areas clean and tidy at all times.
  17. Clean and disinfect areas before introducing new stock.
  18. Isolate new stock and look out for signs of illness.
  19. Dispose of damaged eggs and dead birds quickly and appropriately.
  20. Free ranging poultry keepers and farmers need to ensure that they have plans in place for isolating poultry from wild bird contact.

For more information about biosecurity, visit the Defra website.

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