'Pasture for Pollinators': Welsh dairy farmers help reverse bee decline

The farmers are using special seed mixes in their pastures which include a high proportion of pollinator friendly plants (Photo: Cotswold Seeds Ltd)
The farmers are using special seed mixes in their pastures which include a high proportion of pollinator friendly plants (Photo: Cotswold Seeds Ltd)

Welsh dairy farmers concerned by the plight of pollinators have sprung into action to help reverse their decline.

Six dairy farmers, who belong to a group called Calon Wen consisting of 20 organic family farms across Wales, are hoping to change things.

The farmers are leading a research project “Pasture for Pollinators”, looking at how they can stop and reverse the decline of bumblebee populations by managing their pastures a little differently.

The Project, which is funded through the European Innovation Partnership programme managed by Menter a Busnes, started at the beginning of 2018.



The farmers are using special seed mixes in their pastures, supplied by Cotswold Seeds, which include a high proportion of pollinator friendly plants.

This will be combined with simple grass management techniques during the year.



During the silage season the farmers will be leaving a four-metre strip along the field margins uncut to ensure a constant feast of flowers for pollinators.

They are also looking at how they can manage other habitats on the farm, such as hedgerows and unimproved pasture.

“Seeing wildlife on my farm makes my job much more enjoyable, and learning about bumblebees has been fascinating” said David Edge, one of the Calon Wen farmers involved in setting up the project.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust are providing the technical expertise for the project, and are monitoring pollinator populations across all farms.

Sinead Lynch, Senior Conservation Officer at the Trust, said: “We are currently still in our initial trial period and we are already observing some very interesting results.

“We have visited all of the farms, completed surveys and seen that the farmers are incredibly engaged and on board with this project which is great.”

Over the next two years the project team hopes to be able to show that looking after pollinators is easy and practical and goes hand in hand with producing quality milk.