Clean farming, or the mode of removing by mowing, disking, or ‘herbicide spraying’ all vegetation down to bare dirt, is a common agricultural practice today. While bare edges, corners, ditch banks and the odd piece of land are common sights, there is a drive in some communities to ‘bring farm edges back to life’.
The notion of a bare edge is popular because this part of the field is most prone to accumulate weeds. The resulting actions create voids in the landscape in an attempt to combat said weeds, but according to the Anderson family of Hedgerow Farms, clean farming should mean ‘weed-free, not vegetation free’.
The idea of hedgerows isn’t new; in fact they date back 1000’s of years. Farmers who grow hedgerows spend less time and money mowing, scraping, disking and spraying each year. Using native grasses and self-sustaining perennials not only out-compete and suppress weeds; they also stabilize soils, decrease annual maintenance, improve water quality by filtering surface runoff, and save on labor and chemical costs. Hedgerows also act as a buffer zone between crops and fields providing protection from wind. This extra vegetation provide homes for wildlife drawing in beneficial birds and insects important to many farming operations.
So why aren’t more farmers planting hedgerows? Time, education and money. The benefits of hedgerows are astounding, they have the possibility to provide a higher quality of life for animals and people too, it will just take time to change general practices.
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