Farmland

Credits: Don Sutherland

Much of our countryside is farmed, whether as arable farmland with crops such as wheat, barley, rape and potatoes, or as grazing land for sheep and cattle. But lots of wildlife makes it's home there too.

Farmland supports a huge range of wildlife especially where field margins include hedges and strips of rough grassland next to fields for growing crops. Farm ponds, old trees, patches of scrub, small woods and boggy areas also creates more space for wildlife on farmland.

Some changes to farmland in recent decades, such as larger field sizes, destroying hedges, filling in of ponds and the ploughing up of old flower rich meadows have led to loss of wildlife. Intensive farming which uses many herbicides and pesticides also makes it difficult for wildlife to find food, shelter and breeding sites on farmland.

 

Did you know?


Flowers such as common poppy, corncockle and cornflower were probably first introduced to Britain by farmers thousands of years ago in the Neolithic. Their seed was mixed in with the grain that the first farmers brought with them to plant. Today with the use of modern herbicides they are much rarer. You can still find common poppies but corncockles and cornflowers have nearly died out in the wild in the UK.


Hedgerows


Hedgerows can be seen all over farmland in Britain! A hedgerow is a brilliant home for all sorts of wildlife, from little tiny beasties which are too small to see, to snuffling, spiky hedgehogs and glorious purple emperor butterflies with wings of deep purple.


Read all about them in this lovely article!

 



Wildlife to look out for:


Birds


Keep a sharp eye and you might see barn owls swooping for prey and little owls soaring over fields, or hear the sound of the melodic skylark singing across the land!


That's not all! Also spy grey partridges, red legged partridges, pheasants, beautiful lapwings, rooks, carrion crows and woodpigeons.

 

Plants


See if you can spot hawthorn, blackthorn, elder and dogrose within hedgerows and flowers such as common poppies, thistles and docks along field edges!

 





 

Mammals


Some mammals thrive on well-managed farmland! If you're patient you might see rabbits, hares, moles, weasels, stoats, mice (such as harvest mouse), shrews and voles (like the field vole).

 




 

Minibeasts


Hear the buzz of bees and see the flutter of butterfly wings! Look out for bumblebees, butterflies, ladybirds, and a wide variety of beetles!

 

 









Activities

 

Did you know there's activities you can try using farmland? Click on the activity sheets to download and see even more here


 









Can you spot it?