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Environment & Conservation on Farms Gillian McKnight Conservation Consultant.

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Presentation on theme: "Environment & Conservation on Farms Gillian McKnight Conservation Consultant."— Presentation transcript:

1 Environment & Conservation on Farms Gillian McKnight Conservation Consultant

2 International Year of Soils

3 33 Soils - renewable or finite? Soil – farm natural “capital” – or renewable resource? We need soils: “ecosystem services” –habitats –forests –water –food –fibre –health –culture –recreation

4 44 Soil Biodiversity – a food web Micro fauna - bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes Meso fauna – mites, springtails Macro fauna – earthworms, beetles, spiders, larvae Plant roots

5 55

6 66

7 77 A functioning ecosystem? Soils and soil organisms make up a complex micro-ecosystem Uniform and intensively managed fields have lower diversity of soils, soil organisms etc Soil biodiversity trends are similar to above ground biodiversity - which is also declining Functions include –Nutrient cycling – regulates ecosystem functioning through soil organic matter, soil carbon sequestration, emission of gasses (GHG), nutrient availability, modifying soil structure and water, supporting vegetation & biodiversity = genetic diversity

8 88

9 99 How does Scottish agriculture affect soils? We understand physical structure, pH, nutrient levels We understand drainage & compaction Do we understand soil biodiversity & soil biological functions? How do farm operations affect –bacteria –fungi –carbon

10 10 Is farming decreasing or building soil health? Soil structure - soil organic matter– a major carbon store, huge historic losses through intensive management Compaction – reduces activity of soil micro organisms and crop growth Chemicals – in UK 31,000 tonnes of chemicals are applied annually which disrupt life cycles of micro-organisms; enter water and air etc Erosion – loss of soils into other systems eg aquatic High bacterial to fungal ration in soils reduces nutrient retention

11 11 Management significantly affects soil biota “a change in soil health resulting in diminished capacity of the ecosystem to provide goods & services” = soil degradation (JHI) –the bacterial to fungal ratio is increased by application of nitrogen –nitrogen leaching increases with reduced fungi –cultivation reduces fungal hyphae –pesticides affect non target organisms eg beneficial plants, microbes & fungi eg glyphosate reduces grassland mycrorrhiza both directly & indirectly

12 12 Cropping Continuous cropping depletes soil organic matter which reduces soil biodiversity = loss of genetic diversity = Threats to soil biodiversity highest where agriculture is most intensive and population is highest Integrated pest control reduces environmental impact compared to conventional systems but Organic systems support significantly higher soil biota functions than conventional systems

13 13 Grasslands Grasslands play a major role in carbon sequestration Total carbon can be higher in forestry but the below ground can be greater in grasslands - the most stable carbon is below ground. Greater storage of carbon can be achieved through increasing nitrogen fixing legumes, which absorb rather than release carbon to the atmosphere; and by using deeper rooting plants Fungi increase with soil organic matter (carbon) - helps restore natural grasslands

14 14 Biodiversity Declines & Species Extinctions Species losses in grasslands due to intensive management –high soil fertility –loss of fungal activity & mycorrhiza –seed bank limitations –lack of soil microfauna Species increases in grassland restoration with extensive management –cessation of fertiliser –cut & remove sward with aftermath grazing –can take c20 years –depends on soils and seed bank –oversowing or slot seeding –use of yellow rattle (hemi-parasitic) –enhance mycorrhiza

15 15 It’s not all about trees Expansion of tree cover has caused significant declines across a range of priority habitats and associated species: –Upland and lowland grasslands –Hay meadows –Acid & calcareous grasslands –Wood pastures –Blanket bog –Upland & lowland heaths –Species poor inbye pastures –Species poor rush pastures

16 16 How do your clients farm? Do you ask clients about? –Sustainable farming? –Wildlife friendly? –Less intensive farming methods? –Local suppliers & markets? –Quality v quantity of produce?

17 17 Do we need to produce more food globally? Small scale traditional agriculture produces 50% of world food Fishing, hunting, home grown accounts for 20% of world food Commercial agriculture produces 30% of world food half of this food is wasted One billion people are obese One billion people are under-nourished In UK 7m million tonnes of food was thrown away = 17m tonnes of CO 2 In UK almost one million people use food banks * figures taken from Oxford Real Farming Conference paper

18 18 New SRDP 2014 – 2020 Priorities Enhancing the rural economy Supporting agricultural businesses Protecting and improving the natural environment Addressing the impact of climate change Supporting rural communities

19 19 Budget Allocations Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) ……………...£459m Agri-Environment Climate Scheme …………………………£350m Forestry Grant Scheme ………………………………………....£252m Beef package ……………………………………………………..£ 45m New Entrants Support …………………………………………...£ 20m Support for Co-operative Action ……………………………..£ 10m Small Farms Support Scheme ha..…………………….£ 6m Crofting Support Scheme ……………………………………..£ 14m Food and Drink Support …………………………………………£ 70m LEADER ………………………………………………………......£ 86m Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (KTIF) …………….£ 10m Advisory Service ………………………………………………….£ 20m Broadband ………………………………………………………...£ 9m Technical Assistance ……………………………………………..£ 15m

20 20 New SRDP RPID, SNH, FCS involvement Additional support and mentoring will be delivered through the Advisory Service. Level 1 – applications for grants up to £75,000 with local approval. Level 2 – applications for grants above £75,000 which will be considered nationally by an expert panel For forestry the threshold will remain at £750,000

21 21 Agri-Environment Climate Scheme £350m £10 million of targeted support for slurry stores £6 million for footpaths and other works to support access management Geographical targeting of options Advice for Farm Environment Plans

22 22 More Targeting of Options Target maps for some options (eg mown and grazed grassland; hedges) Need support from relevant conservation organisation Training for agents & applicants

23 23 New Options? Flooding – to reduce flood risk –river embankment removal, lowering or breaching –SEPA approval –plan for spoil disposal –reinstate vegetation –100% of actual costs –use with habitat options

24 24 Arable Options Unharvested crops / Wild Bird Cover £ –Capital payment £ Forage brassica crops for farmland birds £ Unharvested conservation headlands for wildlife £ Retention of winter stubbles for wildlife £ Stubbles followed by green manure in arable rotation £ Beetlebanks/Grass Strips/Water Margins in arable fields £595.64

25 25 Water Margins In grass fields £123.42

26 26 Conversion to Low Input Grassland Land at risk from flooding or erosion £ Management of Flood plains £57.43

27 27 Wetland Wetland Management £90.03 Wetland Creation £284.80

28 28 Habitat Mosaic Management A combination of habitat types £104.63

29 29 Species Rich Grassland Management £ Creation and Management £ Capital Payment £ Restoration Capital Payment £514.15

30 30 Grassland Management Options TARGETED Mown grassland for corn buntings £ Wader & Wildlife Mown Grassland £ Wader & Wildlife Grazing Management £ Chough Mown Grassland £ Chough grazing management £87.93 Corncrake Mown Grassland £209.37, £224.75, £ Corncrake Grazing Management £ Corncrake Cover £148.85

31 31 Hedges Creation & Management £1.20/m Capital grant planting £5.40/m Management £0.11/m

32 32 Annual Management Grants for Moorland Moorland Management - livestock grazing £3.60/ha Moorland Management - livestock & deer management £4.84/ha Moorland Management - deer £1.24/ha Heath management (coastal, serpentine & special) £88.79/ha 70ha £3.60 per ha per year thereafter. Stock disposal £24.83/ha Away wintering of sheep £25.83/ha Summer hill grazing of cattle LMO £3.19/ha (1 cow:25ha)

33 33 New Access Options Improving access – new & upgraded paths, core paths, links to core paths Allows for a range of widths (min1.2m, 1.5m, 1.8m or max2.5m) Technical specification Other items – gates, styles, signs, benches, gates, culverts, tree safety –New path – unbound surface - £18.21 per sq. metre (eg. 1.8m width path = £32.78 per linear m) –New path – semi-bound surface - £28.15 per sq. metre (eg. 1.8m width path = £51.30 per linear m) –Upgrade existing path - £6.12 per sq. metre (eg. 1.8m width path = £11.02 per linear m)

34 34 Cutting of Rush Pasture £34.59

35 35 Aerial photo of hill drains/grips

36 36 Use of peat dams

37 37 Eroding peat

38 38 Sphagnum moss absent

39 39 Overburning


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