Nature Friendly Farming

Janet and Ian Robinson have farmed with low impact methods since moving to Ty’n Y Llidiart in May 1985 and have been passionate about bringing renewable energy to the farm. Graham Berry, who has a strong background in sustainability and conservation and Jen, who grew up at the farm, continue in this tradition.

The families have strong connections with the North Wales Wildlife Trust and have recently also joined the Nature Friendly Farming Network. Graham works for the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the area of sustainability and nature recovery.

Along with a continuing tradition of keeping sheep at the farm, and raising chickens, the family have consistently tried to ensure that there is space for nature to flourish as an important part of the farming life here at Ty’n Y Llidiart.

 

 

Yellow Rattle

Here at Ty’n Y Llidiart we grow and collect Yellow Rattle seed by hand each year. The plant has spread well across our “top field” since we introduced it, partly helped by four legged friends at the farm.

Yellow Rattle is a wild flower that grows in traditional hay meadows and wild low fertility grassland areas in the UK. The plant, also known as meadow maker, is parasitic on grass and can be used to create patches in grass dominated areas to allow other wildflowers to be sown.

Traditionally farmers knew it was time to cut hay when the plant came into seed and it is sometimes known as Hay Rattle as the seeds would rattle in their pods when ready to drop.

Small Bale Hay

We make and sell small bale meadow hay at the farm, which brings benefits to many different species. Leaving the grass longer to set seed allows butterflies to lay eggs on the stems and insect life to flourish. Small mammals also benefit from areas of long grass, even in the margins and this in turn has helped our owl population.

In summer the fields are buzzing with the song of grasshoppers and insect life.

Tree & Hedgerow planting

We have planted and improved hedgerows throughout the farm through a number of different schemes. Our newest pollinator hedge is now thriving. We have also planted some basketry willow and some of these provide early pollen that is a great help to bees.

The hedges at the farm are also full of berries – there is a rush to harvest sloes for gin before the birds take them.

Pollinator friendly

Grazing rotation

Diverse grassland

Low impact farming

Janet and Ian stopped putting fertiliser on the fields decades ago and the low impact treatment means grassland fungi have returned to the farm.

We have run our own light box at the farm to check out what moth species we have here. There are a wide variety of moths here, and we often see ghost like moths hovering above the grass at dusk but it was very exciting to meet some spectacular hawk moths too. All the moths support a healthy bat popular too!

Wildlife pond

We recently put a new pond in at Ty’n Y Llidiart. We are hoping that it will help many different species from swallows to dragonflies, insects and amphibians. We are looking forward to planting around the margins and establishing some native pond plants too.

We benefitted from a grant to help establish the pond and also used some of our resources, such as sheep fleece to protect the liner from stones that might have damaged the liner.

 

Renewable energy

There have been various renewable energy projects at Ty’n Y Llidiart over the years.

Our farm turbine is from Proven and was the first small scale turbine be put up in the Manweb area. Ian had been a passionate advocate for years and had a bit of a battle to get it installed with the help of a grant. The turbine is 6kw on a 15 m tower.

The farm shippons have solar panels on the roof that heat water in the house as well as providing electricity.

The most recent move towards renewable energy came when Graham and Jenny moved into “The Granary” an annexe to the main farm building and installed a Ground Source Heat Pump to heat that part of the building. Again we were lucky enough to find grant help. The ambitious system was put in with an enormous length of underground pipework and spaced out carefully to cope with Llandegla winters. So far, so good!