Land management and conservation, May 2016

May land management 2016, Wheatland Farm eco lodgesWheatland Farm is a conservation project in action. Our land management happens all year round, so while there should always be something lovely to look at, sometimes there’s something going on that looks a bit more messy, or even destructive. But it’s happening for a reason. Here’s a bit more about what we’re doing this month and why it helps to manage our Devon farm for wildlife.






What? Establish a new reed bed
Where? in the ‘puddle’ and the wet ditch below Balebarn and in the ‘corner pond’ in the eco lodge field.
Why? Well, ‘establishing’ might be piling it on a bit thick. All we’ve done is move a few phragmites rhizomes from the patch in the edge of the wildlife pond into a scrape we had made below Balebarn Eco Lodge and into the gated wet corner of the lodge field. The scrape below Balebarn is in the ditch system that takes any excess water from the biorock digester that deals with Balebarn’s sewage. And although that water is clean enough to discharge to a ditch, reedbeds are often used to clean water and we’d love to have a bit more wildlife habitat. We didn’t go for a reedbed sewage treatment system initially because they can freeze over in winter, and then – well you’re up the proverbial without a paddle. So this is just a bit extra. And while we’re about it, why not turn the ‘seasonal pond’ in the corner of the lodge field into a reedbed too – it tends to dry out in summer and be a bit of a mess, and the wagtails would love reeds to roost in in winter.






Pond management at Wheatland Farm Eco LodgesWhat? Removing blanket weed, some bullrushes (Typha), and Canadian pond weed
Where? From the wildlife pond
Why? The open water is starting to close, becoming overgrown with invasive Canadian pondweed that a relative threw in in a well meaning attempt to oxygenate the water. Enough said about that really. So now we have to pull some of the weed out. We can’t do it all at once as it’s home to lots of lovely invertebrates – dragonfly larvae, newts and tadpoles etc. So little by little. The ‘bullrushes’ also need controlling. They put themselves all around the edge of the pond, moving in as seeds. But we’d rather have phragmites (reeds) so we routinely pull some bullrushes out. It doesn’t seem to slow them down much.






Moving ferns What? Moving ferns
Where? From below the fishing pond to the wet ‘corner pond’ in the eco lodge field.
Why? We’re planning to restore a hidden pond below the fishing pond and it will mean diggers and some mess. So we’re moving some of the plants we want to save.






What? Site visit with Natural England, Tues 10 may.
Where? Through the lodge field, Lower Newland Moor, Popehouse Moor, back up past the widlife pond and to the orchard.
Why? Routine check and advice visit to ensure we are doing the work specified in our agreement and help sort out any problems. The main discussion points were to plan a late cut for the rushes on Lower Newland Moor (September) followed by weed wiping in early spring. The agreement will also be adjusted to say we can graze with ponies as well as cows if needed.






Planned for this month…
Dig out the hidden pond below the fishing pond – it’s still full of tyres from previous farming owners!
We hope the cows will come back for their summer grazing.
Mowing will continue
Bramble bashing below the wildlife pond early in the month – so long as we can still see there are no birds’ nests.
Bramble bashing along the fence line in Lower Newland Moor