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New hedge planting at Gilston

Thursday 3 February 2011

Hedging at Gilston

Pictured is the Gilston team planting the first of 5 miles of new hedges across the middle of arable fields at Gilston.

The new hedges – and in time many of the old hedges on Gilston will be “doubled up” to give the same effect  - are designed to create a tunnel between them so that partridges can hide from the growing buzzard population. The grey partridge – a red listed species – suffers terribly from winter predation by sparrow hawks and buzzards, even more so when there is snow on the ground for long periods. Before the winter of 2009 for example there were over 60 partridges on Gilston but after the winter – and without any shooting – there were only 8 left in the spring of 2010, the rest killed and eaten by hawks and buzzards.

The hedges will be mostly hawthorn, a shallow rooted species which won’t we hope choke the field drains, with some holly and guelder rose to give interest and variety. They are being planted in tubes to protect them from the numerous hares on the Estate and to make weed control easier in the first few years after planting.

The hedge in the picture is being planted on a “Beetle Bank”, a grass ridge sown in the middle of the field to provide a wintering refuge to Carabid beetles, important aphid predators. Having Beetle banks helps us avoid using insecticides in the summer – cereal aphids can damage crops and many farmers spray their crops if there is a serious outbreak.

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