We have almost 80Ha of land spread across 8 watercress farms across Hampshire and Dorset, all situated on chalk streams. Chalk streams are spring-fed and have unique biology due to the consistently high quality chalk groundwater that forms the streams in the headwaters. Around 80% of the world’s chalk rivers are found in England and it is our duty and pleasure to look after them.
We have adopted measures to prevent sediment and nutrients entering the chalks streams to ensure they have the best water quality to provide ideal conditions for aquatic invertebrates, which in turn provide food for wild fish and otters. We monitor the water chemistry and aquatic biology of our chalk streams to ensure they are healthy.
We plant and manage wildflower areas to attract pollinating insects, which in turn attract predators that then provide natural pest control. Some areas of the farms are also left to recolonise naturally, relying on the natural seedbank in the soil. These areas provide food and shelter for wildlife and form corridors to link with the wider landscape and prevent wildlife from becoming isolated.
Some areas have been planted with seed to provide vital food for birds during the months when food is scarce.
We are now only cutting the tops and inside faces of our hedgerows every other year to promote the growth of fruits and nuts, which provide food for birds and other wildlife throughout the year.