BE3 - Management of Hedgrows

Alchad

Member
OK, we've got a small hobby farm of about 15 hectares in a SDA area and all the land is used to make hay, a neighbour grazes his sheep on the land for a few months max a year.

We used to be in one of the environmental schemes which ended a year or so ago and have been looking at the Countrywide Stewardship "Upland Offer" where you need to select (as I understand it) a minimum of 3 options from a combination of base and supplement options. For our land a base option of GS5 (permanent grassland) and a supplement of GS15 (haymaking) are obvious options but I'm struggling to find either another base or supplemental option. The only possibility is BE3 - management of hedgerows but I think the conditions are two onerous
Extract below...

We recommend that you: cut hedgerows in one of the following ways:

no more than 1 year in 3 between 1 September and 28 February - leave at least two-thirds of hedges untrimmed each year
no more than 1 year in 2 between 1 January and 28 February - leave at least one-half of hedges untrimmed each year

The hedges are normal cut in the autumn, doing it in winter would create a hell of a mess in the fields, but if we wanted to do the hedge cutting in the autumn the hedges would look a right mess if left for 3 years.

AS I said, just a hobby farmer but wondered what proper farmers thought of this hedge cutting regime?

Have to say for the relatively small amount of money available from the offer I'm leaning towards tidy hedges and forgoing the cash.

Alchad
 
Location
Devon
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farmerm

Member
Location
Shropshire
I understand why.... but its just totally impractical! they need to pay enough money to equip each farm with the man and machine power to cut their hedges on the 2 days beween Jan and feb thant might be frozen enough to travel with a further option that allows cutting into March if temperature fails to fail below -2 for sufficient duration to allow the cutting.
 
Location
Devon
I came to this conclusion many years ago.
The incompetent idiots with no experience that create these schemes don't even care about the adverse effects of their ideas. They would never comprehend that I actually like nice healthy hedges and an abundance of wildlife and that I've spent my life professionally managing my local environment the benefit of all. To do this, I use my eyes and experience and not a focking calendar.
The hedges that do not get cut due to these schemes end up being of little use to man, beast or nature.

I guess what you should do is claim all the money and put it in a separate 'pot'. Ignore all the rules and if you haven't been caught at the end of the agreement, the pot is yours. Especially as the threat of X% of BPS dwindles.
Personally, I'm too honest and like my sleep too much to do that.
 
Location
East Mids
We have done hedge management under old CSS and then HLS and now Mid Tier, across the whole farm, using contractors. Some are road hedges and so ground conditions not an issue and the verge and road are wide enough to not cause a road safety hazard except for our own field gateways, so we trim the splay.

We normally work on 2 year cutting in February and most years, despite being on very heavy clay, managed to get everything done that we needed to. If we couldn't get on, - this Feb we only got the roadsides done - then we get at least some of them done in the autumn window, as they are now a 3 year hedge, just so we don't risk not being able to cut in Jan/Feb and it going to 4 years. Ours are mixed species hedges and yes they look a bit drastic when done at 3 years but they soon recover and our hedges look amazing and perform their agricultural function of a field boundary plus shelter for livestock
SnowHillhedge.jpg
IMG_20191110_123513.jpg
spring hedges.jpg
. All our fields are either permanent pasture, or a ley or (in the past, arable) with a tussocky grass margin, which gives the soil a bit more ability to recover after winter traffic than cultivated ground.

What used to REALLY annoy me under the old schemes was people who took the hedge money for 2 year cutting and then cut them in September before the birds need the berries, so that cop-out has been removed under the current scheme. Yes, the berries are there on the floor in the flailings, but they rot down/get eaten by slugs a lot quicker than if they are still on the hedge.

The extract quoted by the OP is a RECOMMENDATION not a 'you must'.
 
I think farmers are too keen to have everything looking too tidy, what is best for wildlife is mess, hedges in different stages, some uncut for a couple of years, that is why the schemes ask for 2 or 3 yearly cutting. We seem obsessed with the countryside being tidy, like a manicured lawn (clearing up all brush in a wood, cutting down all dead trees, trimming back all rough areas), this is one reason why we have so little wildlife here in the UK.
 

Werzle

Member
Location
Midlands
I think farmers are too keen to have everything looking too tidy, what is best for wildlife is mess, hedges in different stages, some uncut for a couple of years, that is why the schemes ask for 2 or 3 yearly cutting. We seem obsessed with the countryside being tidy, like a manicured lawn (clearing up all brush in a wood, cutting down all dead trees, trimming back all rough areas), this is one reason why we have so little wildlife here in the UK.
Too many jobs rely on the propaganda of wildlife being under threat in the uk for the truth to really be told. When all this dead wood clogs up watercourses and floods a town or destroys a bridge they will realise why some of us dont go for the unkept look
 
Too many jobs rely on the propaganda of wildlife being under threat in the uk for the truth to really be told. When all this dead wood clogs up watercourses and floods a town or destroys a bridge they will realise why some of us dont go for the unkept look
I disagree, I believe we are one of the most wildlife denuded countries (I know driving through Holland it seemed worse, but then the bar is hardly set high there), and do you honestly think leaving woods and cutting hedges every two years is going to cause flooding? I would argue that Maize for AD plants or silage would be far more likely to cause flooding.
 

LIVE - DEFRA SFI Janet Hughes “ask me anything” 19:00-20:00 20th September (Today)

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Hello, I’m Janet Hughes. I’m the Programme Director for the Future Farming and Countryside Programme in Defra – the programme that’s phasing out the Common Agricultural Policy and introducing new schemes and services for farmers.



Today (20 September) between 7pm-8pm, I and some of my colleagues will be answering your questions about our work including the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Farming in Protected Landscapes, and our test and trials.



We’ll try to answer at least 15 of your top voted questions, so please vote on the questions you’d most like me to answer.



You can read more about our Future Farming policy on our blog.



I’ve answered some of your questions previously: you can watch the videos on...
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