Q Lawns showcases wildlife care

Turf grower uses event to celebrate 20th anniversary and promote better conditions for wildlife.

Anybody - farmer, land manager or gardener - can take simple and cost-effective measures to improve conditions for wildlife.

That was the key message given to the 80 delegates who attended Q Lawn's Sustainable Landscape event at the turf grower's Norfolk farm on 4 July. The day, held to celebrate the company's 20th anniversary, saw Q Lawn customers and suppliers being shown around the 1,000ha farm by Niki Williamson from the RSPB and Q Lawn farm director Colin Brown.

The pair showed delegates some of the steps the farm has taken to improve conditions for wildlife as part of its Entry Level Stewardship programme. They include hedgerow management - hedges cut only on one side - the creation of buffer strips around wet areas and the making of "skylark plots".

The latter are 3sq m undrilled plots of land in a winter wheat field where birds can land and then get into the crops and nest.

After the event, Brown told HW: "I would advise all land managers to get onto a stewardship scheme if you can. It does increase the wildlife population - we are making their habitat much better. We now have English partridges on the farm that are on the 'red' list and some of them have hatched, which is great."

Several guests gave talks at the event including Helen Bostock, who is leading the RHS Plants for Bugs research project. She revealed that habitat loss is a major factor in the declining populations of pollinating insects and therefore urged land managers to use species from the RHS's published list of pollinator-friendly plants.

Skills shortage - Communication essential

Others speakers at the event included BALI chief operations officer Wayne Grills, who led a debate on the skills shortage in the horticulture sector.

Representatives from colleges complained of a lack of support from the industry. However, landscapers argued that the colleges are not always interested in them.

Grills concluded that colleges and employers must better communicate with one another to reinforce the diverse nature of the industry.

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