Skip to content

Nature-Friendly Farming at Coombe Wood

View of green valley with fields, hedgerows, woodland and farm buildings at Coombe Wood Farm, leading down to a pebbly beach.
View of Coombe Wood Farm taken from Salcombe Hill. | © National Trust/Rob Skinner

We've embarked on an ambitious project to restore and expand many important habitats at Coombe Wood farm, creating more space for wildlife to thrive and increasing connectivity across the landscape.

What's happening at Coombe Wood Farm?

Farming will continue but in a nature-friendly way

More hedgerows and wildflower margins are loved by birds, insects and small mammals for food and the safety and shelter they provide.

We will be leaving fields fallow over winter which will help farmland birds to feed and use smaller numbers of grazing animals such as cows to ensure a healthy, natural environment.

Field margins will be left fallow to make space for arable plants to grow. These plants provide a great source of food for overwintering birds such as cirl bunting, linnet and yellowhammer.

Grazing animals

The trampling and munching of cows is helping to create a rich mix of plants, grasses and wildflowers.

Tree planting

We will be creating an area equal to two football pitches of new linear woodland, including nature blossom and fruit rich shrub species. This will create corridors across the valley for important mammal species such as dormouse and feeding areas for bats.

Creating wildflower meadows

An area of lowland meadow habitat, equal in size to five football pitches, will be created. Packed with wildflowers, this area will support thousands of insects that love the nectar-rich flowers.

Planting more hedgerows

We'll be building field boundaries which will help connect habitats and provide important shelter for nesting birds, hibernating hedgehogs, dormice and other small mammals, as well as insects like beetles and butterflies.

Sowing crops that farmland birds feed on

We will be sowing a plot on the farm with a mix of seeds including dwarf sunflower, fodder raddish, linseed, mustard, quinoa, red millet, spring barley, spring oats, spring wheat and white mullet to provide food for farmland birds such as cirl bunting, linnet and yellowhammer.

Support for the resident barn owl population

We have installed seven new large bird boxes for barn owls, stock dove and kestrel.

Upgrading our footpaths

We are improving gateways to make footpaths more accessible for visitors.

View across green fields with adults planting trees in the foreground.
Tree planting with the local community at Coombe Wood Farm | © Meg Vallender

Working together

In addition to the work of our tenant farmer, we’ve been very lucky to have the support of our volunteers and local community groups who have been involved in wildlife surveys, planting trees and hedges, and installing improved pedestrian gateways.

Working towards nature friendly farming: a timeline

August 2021

Testing the soils on the farm

Rangers took soil samples from fields around Coombe Wood Farm. The soil is sent to laboratories and is then analysed for mineral, ph levels, etc. The lab’s findings are then used to help plan what gets planted where.

Four people walking through a field, one in a black coat carrying a spade across their shoulder, and three in red National Trust coats carrying buckets and spades.
Soil sampling at Coombe Wood Farm | © National Trust/ Jessica Tatton Brown