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Farmers and hedgerows report: video transcript

The video starts with establishing shots of Nightingale Farm, East Sussex which is farmed by Kevin Hawes.

Kevin: ‘We’ve planted something like 30,000 hedgerow plants in the last 30 years. That’s actually a lot of carbon being captured. If you end up with a hedge like we’ve got: two metres wide, some a couple of metres or more high and some of them growing up to full height trees – that’s a huge amount of carbon captured in there. So you are doing your bit for the environment. You end up with this huge length of linear woodland effectively, which means the animals can move along that and the birds can roost in there and everything else as well.’

We move on to shots of Kevin tending to his cattle.

Kevin: ‘There’s quite a drive at the moment which is ‘let’s plant trees everywhere’. And the problem with that is if you start planting trees on good agricultural land either you’re not producing livestock or you’re growing crops. Hedgerows are an ideal way of putting trees in a place where they’ll help the farmer rather than just taking the farming away completely.

‘The hedges are buffering the water flow to reduce the risk of flooding further down. They’re also drawing up a lot of the water so that actually the fields won’t be as boggy around where the hedges and tree roots are as they would be in open fields. So it’s all part of improving the soil.’

We then move on and see shots of two more farmers (husband and wife) walking along a hedgerow with their dog. This is Adrian and Angela Hibberd who farm at Lower Bull Hill Farm in Dorset.

Angela: ‘Crumbs, you’re going to have to mend that hole in the hedge there before we put the cattle out here next time. It’s not a big hole, but you know….’

Angela and Adrian are now facing the camera.

Angela (to Adrian): ‘You mentioned at the beginning of this year, when we had the drought, one of the things we benefited from was that the cattle actually browsed the hedgerows didn’t they?’

Adrian: ‘Yeah.’

Angela: ‘And we think that stopped us having to supplementary feed over the summer.’

Adrian: ‘When we move them from field to field, the first thing they did this summer was – they didn’t eat the grass, they ate the hedges!

Adrian laughs.

Adrian: ‘Talking to the government, it needs to be long term. It’s not a five-year or a ten year project. It’s a lifetime project.

Angela: ‘But also their policy is to pay people to put hedgerows back in. There’s nothing to support us continuing what we’re doing and the good practice that’s there.’

Adrian: ‘Everything has to be bespoke. And nature’s bespoke. If you try and put nature in a box, it comes back and bites you on the arse.’

The video closes on a shot of the bright sun piercing through a bare, but densely laid hawthorn hedge.