Thomas Banks & Partners has always believed that ensuring a healthy and vibrant environment is part of our duty as farmers. The countryside is our office, but we do strongly believe that we should do our bit to improve it, so in recent years we have planted over 10,000 new hedge plants and in conjunction with the Woodland Trust we have planted over 35 acres of trees.
Entry Level Scheme (ELS)
In 2006, Thomas Banks and Partners joined the ELS, created by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). As part of this scheme, we have established numerous features and habitats to help the local wildlife, such as the sky lark and brown hare reverse the current trend of reducing population numbers. Please see below just a few of the features we have established to help the local wildlife and their habitats. These are all run and managed alongside our productive fields.
- Buffer strips – We have created over 10 miles of grassy buffer strips. These strips have been planted with grass mixes that give a supply of beneficial insects and food for many species. They create a habitat for ground nesting birds and many other animals. These are only cut once a year, outside of any nesting times, to prevent unwanted weeds. This means the areas are left undisturbed and create a fantastic environment.
- Enhanced hedgerows – Thomas Banks and Partners now operates a system of only hedge cutting one year in two or three (depending on location). This means the hedges are not disturbed as often and allow them to become thick and bushy to help birds nest in them. The hedges are only cut between 1st September and 31st April, to reduce any impact the hedge cutting could have.
- Field Corners – Any unproductive field corners, where our modern machinery simply cannot fit into, we have sown with grass and created field corner habitats. This like the buffer strips creates an area for ground nesting birds and insects.
- Sky Lark plots – Each year we create over 400 sky lark plots. The sky lark likes areas of bare ground to allow it to land. Therefore when sowing the land in the autumn, we simply leave 4 x 4 meter patches of bar ground for these fantastic birds. Since we have been doing this, our sky lark populations have been steadily increasing year on year.
- Beetle Banks – This is where we create an elevated bank to allow beetles and insects to inhabit. This helps us in the fact that they eat aphids and other pests, while creating a great environment for them.
Straw Biomass Boiler
In 2017 we installed a 1 mega watt biomass boiler to supply all the heat required for our Manor Farm site. This has led to a total reduction of all fossil fuel used to heat the Manor House, wedding barn and grain stores. Please see our innovation page for more information.