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Nature-friendly farming

Wild flowers at the nature-friendly Wimpole Home Farm, Cambridgeshire
Wild flowers at the nature-friendly Wimpole Home Farm | © National Trust/Phil Morley

Discover how tenant farmers are making more space for nature using innovative, low-carbon farming methods on land in our care.

Working with tenants to support nature

Around 80 per cent of our land is farmed in some way, either by tenants, commoners with grazing rights, those with annual grazing licences or our own staff teams. They have a vital role in helping nature thrive in the countryside.

Tenants at many of the places we look after are already playing their part, from creating field margins and planting hedgerows, to restoring traditional hay meadows and using livestock for conservation grazing. Below, hear from some of those helping nature to return.

Nature-friendly farming in action

Orlock Farm

Orlock Farm, County Down, Northern Ireland

The Alexander family are tenant farmers at Orlock Farm on Northern Ireland’s east coast, where they run a herd of native breed Pedigree Dexter Cattle. They’ve been running the farm with a focus on recovering the land, improving biodiversity and helping nature.

In May 2022, they reseeded the farmland with a mix of grass and herb species, which pollinated despite the summer’s droughts. Now, birds such as house martins and finches have started appearing, along with masses of insects including butterflies.

They revived the farm’s semi-natural native grassland by grazing young cattle on the area to remove dead plant matter and reduce briars and brambles. This restored a meadow scrub patchwork habitat, encouraging birds such as tree sparrows. This is just one way of how livestock can be used to help the land recover.

In September 2022 they introduced four hives of Black Irish Native Bees and began making their own honey.

Orlock Farm is now a diverse and thriving landscape. From spotting 42 butterflies during one single transect study of the farm, to seeing flora and fauna flourish in new places, the Alexander family are witnessing first-hand what positive impacts their approach has had.

Two white sheep graze among long grass on a hill overlooking a misty green valley

Our views on land and farming

Learn about our ambitions for the land in our care and how we're working with tenant farmers and common rights holders to support nature-friendly, low-carbon farming.

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