World leaders will be greeted by a purple glow as they descend to the G7 summit this week – thanks to a National Trust farm that has adopted new practices.
Changes in land management at Godrevy Farm on the south-west coast of Cornwall have benefited nature with the introduction of the super-pollinating Phacelia into their arable and green crops. This plant not only attracts wild animals, but also decays and serves as a fertile fertilizer for subsequent crops.
Visible from Carbis Bay – where the guides meet this week – the farm is a perfect example of how nature and agriculture can work hand in hand to stop species loss, improve biodiversity and combat climate change.
It’s also a great example of how agriculture can be sustainable, productive, and profitable for farmers, says the National Trust.
Three years ago, the conservation charity worked with the tenants to make changes that were more aligned with the trust’s ambitious plans to restore nature and reverse the decline in wildlife on the land it tends and ensure the land is on It was farmed a way that was more sympathetic to its coastal location and the surrounding Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSIs).
Changes included planting wild seed margins to bring more wildlife back into the heart of the farm and creating wild corridors that connect to the surrounding coastal habitats; restoring flowering meadows, planting trees, and changing the management of the Cornish hedges that divide the farm.
The showy purple phacelia crop sown on 51 hectares of the 175 hectare farm will be seen by visitors to the area in the coming weeks.
Phacelia improves soil condition by helping to increase soil carbon stores and create better soil structure, and is a rich source of food, especially for invertebrates such as butterflies and bees.
Steve Sudworth, Senior Ranger for the National Trust, said: “It is vital that we stop the alarming decline in nature. While our work at Godrevy may seem small, given the vast extent of the problems we face nationally and globally in reconciling food production and the natural and climate crisis, changes like these can begin to provide solutions offer that for nature, climate and people. “
Godrevy Headland has always been a great place for wildlife with many species of birds, reptiles and invertebrates, says Steve, and since changing how the farm was managed, the Trust has seen rapid improvements in biodiversity. There have been increased sightings of jackdaws and silver-studded blue butterflies and a significant increase in bee species and breeding birds is expected in the coming years.
“The purple haze from Phacelia over the fields in June is a great way for our visitors to see how our land management is changing,” said Steve.
“It gives the area a dramatic splash of color, which on closer inspection is buzzing with insects and swallows. Godrevy is and has always been an important place for people to visit and connect with the landscape and nature, and we are very excited to bring more nature into people’s lives when they come here. “
Rosie Hails, director of nature and science at the National Trust, said: “We are in a climate emergency. Food production and agriculture are vital to help in this struggle.
“We believe farmers play a critical role in producing safe and sustainable food, but they also play a critical role in improving biodiversity, protecting fragile natural resources and tackling the problems caused by climate change.
“We need to grow the right plants and animals in the right places and bring nature back to areas where the quality of the land is marginal or where nature needs a helping hand to move through the landscape to deal with the impact coping with our changing climate. By growing nature-friendly plants to promote wildlife and ensure they can easily move through our landscapes, which benefits both nature and people. “