In 2011 we took part in project with FWAG and Somerset Wildlife Trust which was called ‘Seeds for change’, part of a larger project called Widescale Enhancement of Biodiversity (WEB). The main objective of this project was to see how specially developed nectar rich seed mixes would fare on a working farm in the Mendip Hills. If successful it was hoped that Natural England would incorporate these nectar rich seed mixes into its Countryside steward scheme options, thus encouraging farmers and land managers to take it up and start to make landscape scale improvements in bio-diversity.
We planted 3.5ha in the autumn of 2011 alongside a 3.5ha standard grass control sward. The mix typically consists of several varieties of Ryegrass and clovers (both red and white), then includes other plants such as; Ox-eye Daisy, Yarrow, Burnet Forage Herb, Chicory, Yellow Trefoil, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Ribgrass Forage Herb, Meadow Fesue, Classic Timothy and Prairial Cocksfoot.
The project proved to be a success with Natural England adopting the ideal from 2013 for inclusion as option EK21 Legume and herb rich swards. We now have around 40ha (100 acres) of these mixes on the farm, though they do not form part of our Agri-Environmental scheme, we do it because we believe it has real benefits to both pollinators (happy bees!) and our farm animals.