One of the delights of being part of BFWN is the discovery of important species in unexpected places.
In August, Jo Jones surveyed a patch of farmyard on manor that had been left for wildlife, instead of being tidied up (see below image). During the visit, 40 plant species were counted within the area (note this does not include all grass species, which are harder to identify late in the season). This included 213 plants of Common Cudweed, a species which is Near Threatened.
Little management is good management
The gain to wildlife of leaving this patch is achieved while continuing to use this area as part of the working yard. The Common Cudweed is present in numbers probably by virtue of this use, rather than despite it. There is no need to protect these plants from day-to-day activities.
Nurturing wildlife in unexpected places
The key take home message from this discovery is that a farmyard, which has been left to its own devices, is producing some great biodiversity results. It also emphasises the importance of physical-ground disturbance and illustrates that this management can be delivered in many ways – from heavy rabbit grazing or mechanical cultivation, through to small scale disturbance created by moving machinery around.
Another important component of the farmyard micro-habitat is soil compaction, again created by machinery tracks. Many important plant species, such as Mossy Stonecrop (below), require this combination of soil compaction and physical disturbance in order to thrive.