At the Isle Estate we are doing our bit for the environment and have teamed up with Harper Adams & Ashton Universities as well as The Field Studies Council for a multi-year project to enhance the natural environment and biodiversity on the farm.
The Isle ‘Enhanced Ecological Management Project’ and ‘Social Programs’ have gradually evolved over the last ten years.
In simple terms we are attempting to reduce our reliance on bagged fertiliser, improve soil health and benefit the natural environment. At the same time we’re helping local and visiting communities enjoy the health, recreational and educational benefits of a rural setting.
Currently all our activities are self-funded with no external fiscal contribution.
Situated about four miles northwest of Shrewsbury, Shropshire, the Isle Estate consists of approximately 860 acres of agricultural land, water, woodland and dwellings, with the majority of the farm surrounded by the River Severn.
Thirty four species of Odonata have been recorded in Shropshire in 2023, including 22 dragonfly species and 12 damselfly species.
As part of The Farm’s ongoing biodiversity improvement program we have teamed up with Sue Rees Evans, the British Dragonfly Society’s Shropshire County Recorder and the Odonata Tsar for the Shropshire Ecological Data Network (SEDN). Sue visited us four times in 2023 to start a baseline study of The Isle Pool area (the 15 acre ice age lake in the centre of the farm).
Citizen science has a major role to play in promoting environmental health and especially species identification. We are lucky to have Sue help us and look forward to seeing her in years to come.
Download Sue’s report, Isle Pool Dragonflies & Damselflies.
At the Isle Estate B&B in 2022, we planted 75 native species oak trees (taken from on-farm stock) in celebration of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Each tree has been sited to replace trees lost over the last 260 years. Many thanks to Tomasz Bieronski (pictured).
Arable in rotation: 150 acres milling wheat, 100 acres fodder maize, 50 acres potatoes, seasonal grazing for 600 sheep and woodland.
A comprehensive soil heath program is being undertaken with particular attention given to biodiversity, carbon catchment and organic matter content. Through the ‘utilisation of by-product’ (compost derived from urban residential waste), cover crops, technology and academic monitoring, we are endeavouring to enhance the natural and farmed environments. The implementation team currently includes:
To encourage native plant and insect populations, B-Lines have been created and habitat biodiversity improved by means of arable reversion, variable stocking, nectar & pollen mixes, native species tree planting, current environmental schemes and a programme of ‘untidy farming’. The British Trust for Ornithology, Shropshire Wildlife and Shropshire Botanical Society have access and give some feedback.
This includes residential property, start-up business unit, affordable accommodation (not for profit), equine activities, solar, biomass, angling, bed and breakfast. These are generally net contributors to the farm income stream.
Flood plain arable reversion, smart siting of wildlife zones, implementation of current legislation, use of cover crops and intelligent cultivation constitute our major water protection measures. Both the Environment Agency and Severn Trent Water have biodiversity and quality sampling points situated on the farm. Additional input is provided by national angling organisations.
Attention is currently concentrated on health, education and recreation. We have working partnerships with a range of professional and volunteer organisations including the fields of health, homelessness, educational, outdoor activity companies, a crime reduction project and an angling society. Promotion of guided and non-guided access to the land is used to broadcast opportunities and evolve new partnerships.
The above categories all function within a relatively small, self-contained holding at the Isle Estate which now benefits from access to a variety of professional and voluntary expertise.
In the future, metrics and management are set to play an increasing role and we are keen to offer our time, experience and resources to help with the formation, implementation and promotion of the Natural Environment Strategy which is set to have direct implications for the future of British agriculture and land tenure.
Please contact us to find out more or to get involved in our work.