Hello BEST members,

"In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, we will understand only what we are taught."
-Baba Dioum

    In this day and age consumers should realize the connection between wildlife and agriculture and aim to support more farmers that are becoming wildlife-friendy. Oftentimes, the needs of wildlife habitat are similar to the needs of good quality farmland and forage. Researchers at the University of Southampton in Britain and the University of Reading's Centre for Agri-Environmental Research found that organic farms had more biodiversity but less wheat yields. On the other hand, farmers that signed up for and used the 'Fair to Nature' approach to farming had increased biodiversity and still produced the same crop yield as normal conventional farms. In the Fair to Nature program, farmers in Britain got more money for their wildlife-friendly brand named premium crops if they set aside at least 1O% of their land to be managed for wildlife with 4% of this wildlife land reserved for pollen and nectar-rich areas for insects and 2% for food growth for wild birds. Consumers are thus given the option to buy wildlife-friendly products instead of just organic products. The main way to increase biodiversity on a farm is to increase the different types of habitats available on the farm by inserting hedgerows, field margins, and planting different seed mixes that can also serve as food for wildlife. Hedgerows are wild shrubs or trees that border a road or field and field margins are edges of the agricultural field where no crop grows. Farms can thus be more sustainable while also decreasing negative affects of agriculture on wildlife populations. The U.S. does not have a 'Fair to Nature' program, but some U.S. farms have hedgerows and field margins along with other sustainable farming methods to help conserve wildlife.

      In the U.S. wildlife-friendly statuses for farms are available and the first farm to have this status in Florida is Hammock Farm Gourmet of Brooksville. In July of 2O15, this farm was certified as wildlife-friendly for providing habitat for native reptiles and mammals while producing eggs and pasture-raised meat pigs, goats, chickens, and sheep. This 22-acre farm has a butterfly garden, 7 acres of forest, and several areas of native plant growth making it a great example of sustainable and environmental animal husbandry. The native plants, gardens, and forest provide food and shelter for wildlife. Most farmers in the U.S. do not appreciate natural predators like wolves, coyotes, panthers, etc. because they can kill their livestock and cause the farmer to lose money. However, these wild animals have a vital role in the food chain and maintaining the balance of the ecosystem. To work around natural predators like hawks, coyotes, bobcats, and some panthers in Florida, Hammock Farm Gourmet of Brooksville protects their newborn lambs and baby goats by keeping them nearby human activity. The owner of the farm also discovered that hawks preferred to prey on chickens that are lighter colored, so dark colored Australorp chickens which also have a large body size are raised on the farm. The chickens roam around fertilizing the pasture during the day, but are secured safely away from predators in a coop at night. The pasture is then rotationally grazed among the sheep, goats, and pigs. Rotational grazing helps naturally control parasites and pests for their animals and the farm also has a compost pile where they put their used bedding and manure. Wild predators commonly pass through farmland and pastures so it is great to see initiative here in Florida for including wildlife with sustainable animal husbandry and learning to co-exist as much as possible with wildlife. The extra measures such as composting, naturally fertilizing, and avoiding pesticides also demonstrates the sustainability of this farm in limiting its negative impact on the environment. Let us hope that farmers and consumers can continue learning about connecting wildlife with agriculture and teaching each other methods on how to produce efficiently while conserving what wildlife and nature we have left. 

-Claudia Sanchez
University Scholar – CALS
BioEnergy and Sustainable Technology Lab
Soil and Water Science Department

University of Florida-IFAS

"Sanchez,Claudia M" <[log in to unmask]>

Use Your Loaf to Save British Wildlife
November 18, 2015


First Florida Farm Achieves Certified Wildlife Friendly Status