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Open competition: Establishment techniques for hedges (CTE9514A) - BD1002

This study will aim to examine whether recently planted farm hedges are meeting wildlife objectives and will assess the successes and costs of different establishment techniques. Initially, background information (such as available guidelines and other advisory information) relating to hedgerow establishment and wildlife interest will be collated and used to supplement presently held data; this information will be gained through consultation with MAFF and a wide range of other relevant organisations (including ITE, English Nature, BTCV, agricultural colleges and the NFU). Comparisons will then be made between alternative guidelines and, where possible, the scientific basis for this existing advice will be investigated. In the next part of the study, a representative survey of new hedges (those planted within the last 5 years) in different regions of England and Wales will be conducted; this will aim to provide an assessment of the current status of new hedge planting on farmland. Quantification of the extent and type of new hedges (including source of funding) will be undertaken on 100 different farm holdings with new hedges within a clearly defined sample frame. Survey work will be carried out in 2 stages over the research period and will be structured to avoid seasonal constraints; this work will involve site visits consisting of farmer interviews and analysis of hedge characteristics such as structure, botanical composition and nature of adjacent land. A comparison will then be made of the full cost of different establishment techniques (including materials and labour costs associated with planting and aftercare treatments). Costing information will be derived from a comprehensive range of published (e.g Nix, Spons) and unpublished (farmer/contractor) sources. Information gained from sources around England and Wales will be compared to examine whether significant regional variations exist in hedge establishment and maintenance costs. Results of the field survey will be analysed according to existing environmental constraints/opportunities such as soil type, hydrological conditions, microclimate, altitude, adjacent land use, headland strips and relative location. These baseline factors will provide a comparative base for assessment of the relative success of the range of alternative establishment techniques. On the basis of results from the field study, hedge establishment techniques to benefit wildlife will be recommended and necessary revisions to existing guidelines will be suggested. Ultimately, recommendations will be made which will encourage hedging of appropriate height and width to provide maximum shelter, suitable bird nesting habitat and to encourage use by invertebrates and small mammals. The influence of formative pruning, type and timing of cutting and its influence on future management regime would also be an important consideration. Overall, findings should improve current practical advice for farmers seeking to plant new hedges for wildlife, and provide better value in cases where grants are given to meet new hedge objectives.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1996

To: 1998

Cost: £76,356
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Catherine Bickmore Associates
Fields of Study
Environmental Stewardship