Farmers get hedge-ucation opportunity at Ancrum event

04/09/08, TSPL, Scotsman, RSPB Nature of farming award, Scottish finalist Patrick Bowden-Smith pictured on his farm in the East Neuk of Fife.  Hedge rows planted to help bird habitat. pic Ian Rutherford
04/09/08, TSPL, Scotsman, RSPB Nature of farming award, Scottish finalist Patrick Bowden-Smith pictured on his farm in the East Neuk of Fife. Hedge rows planted to help bird habitat. pic Ian Rutherford

Every farmer knows a good farm hedge stops stock roaming while keeping them safe and sheltered.

Fewer farmers have twigged the real contribution that same good hedge can make to their farms environmental credentials at a time when the industry is constantly urged to encourage farmland birds or wildflowers and all the official talk is of greening the CAP.

A free SAC event at Ancrum on June 19, will show how hedgerow management can reap rewards in many ways. The farm walk of 2-3km on Furlongs Farm, part of the Kirklands Estate, will be hosted by farmer Jamie Scott. He has 260ha of arable ground, permanent pasture, parkland and woodland, with 100 suckler cows and 200 draft ewes. He has extensive experience of managing hedgerows, parklands and grazing of wildflower rich meadows.

“Because hedges are so long lived, they provide significant landscape value too,” comments Jamie.

“Regular maintenance is very important, if left unmanaged, hedgerows will grow into a line of trees. They can be gappy or leggy with little at the base. For livestock thick, bushy and well managed ‘laid’ hedges, provide shelter and wildlife habitat. I’d like to encourage more people to lay their hedges ‘

The programme at Furlongs is designed to help share the experiences of one family and their attempt to manage the land. It is clear that the next reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy will require land to be dedicated to conservation and farm hedges can help fit the bill.

Hedge laying is more often regarded as an English craft by Scots more familiar with dry stane dykes. However, in arable areas like the Borders it has a key role to play. It was once common practice but all but died out after WW2. Furlongs Farm welcomes the Scottish Hedge Laying Championships each October, attracting professional hedge layers from all over the country.

The event is part-funded by Scottish Government’s Advisory Activity Programme. Lunch is provided free and in order to help with catering could anyone wishing to attend register their interest by contacting SAC at St Boswells, val.angus@sac.co.uk or tel 01835 823322.