Grey partridge in grass

Farmland

Three-quarters of the land in the UK is farmed, so farmland is very important for our wildlife. While exploring it you may see some of our most well-known plants and animals.

What makes this habitat different?

  • Farmland is very important for our wildlife. It's also a way for many people to experience nature first-hand.
  • There are lots of animals especially birds that are considered 'farmland species' because they thrive there, but as farming styles have changed some of these animals have not been able to survive on modern farms. 
  • In many parts of the UK, numbers of farmland birds are in big trouble. 

What lives there?

Crop-laden fields alive with the sounds of skylarks rising above the ground, hedgerows bursting with flowers and the noise of birdsong. 

You could see weasels scampering around stone walls, damselflies flitting along ditches or brown hares leaping about in the fields. Come winter, you might see foxes loping across the path in front of you or golden plovers congregating in great flocks.

Some of the most special farmland bird sounds are the wild squeals made by displaying lapwings. These bold black-and-white wading birds plunge, twist and swoop in the air while emitting strange, strange sounds...

Skylarks are justly famous for their skilful songs, but what about watching a barn owl float along a hedgerow or across a field, before stopping to hover and dive onto prey? Or swallows whizzing across a field and up into a barn with a beak full of flies? You can't fail to admire yellow wagtails scampering amongst the hooves of cattle as they grab insects.

'Boxing' brown hares are famous for their displays in March, but what's going on? It's females trying to avoid the attentions of males, seeing them off with a swipe of the paw. 

In the heat of summer, butterflies brighten farmland as they seek out nectar from plants of all shapes and sizes. Deer trot gracefully away into the distances as stately oaks and ashes stand tall in the hedgerows, providing thousands of creatures with food and homes.

Why are they in trouble?

No hedges

After the Second World War farmers were told to do whatever they could to grow more food. This often meant making big fields and getting rid of hedges. Hedges are a homes to many birds and other animals such as the super cute dormouse.

No borders

Fields used to have boarder bits of ground borders that were left alone and so  allowing different flowering plants could to grow. This was great for insects that feed on the flower's flowers’ nectar and the birds which eat the insects. But the invention of new farming machines (such as combine harvesters) meant fields could have crops right up to the edge, so boarders borders were squeezed out. 

Chemicals

Many chemicals used on farms are now not allowed by laws which protect the environment. But in the past these chemicals could work their way through the food chain from plants through to insects and into larger animals and do great harm.