August Update

August has flown by and with it, not the most settled summer weather! Between rain showers and colder mornings, it hasn’t really felt like what we’re used to at all! However, on some of the warmer days in August, I was lucky enough to be out pond sampling on some of the cluster farms. I found it fascinating how clear the water has been in all these ponds and, just how many there are! I am still going to be out getting samples over the next few weeks and then I’ll be planning on getting some comparisons over winter. 

Still on the water theme, we had our first RiverSearch training workshop for volunteers starting in the Upper Beult catchment. This volunteer role is to have water sampling carried out on several points along the river Beult and its tributaries so we can monitor how it changes and help see where improvements are needed. It was great to have the support of Cleo Alper from South East Rivers Trust who was able to give a more in depth view of the Beult and help share with the volunteers all the collaborative work in the area. The volunteers were keen to hear about the farmer cluster and are looking forward to being a part of the wider work. 

Part of the wider work has included the nightingale surveys which Chas Holt from Adonis Blue (formerly KWT Consultancy Services) has been working on for the last two years. The surveys have now been completed across the cluster and eighty nightingale territories were recorded on farms or adjacent land! It is great to see that the cluster is such a stronghold and how farm management has supported this. However, as this species is still in decline it is vital, we look at how we can connect these strongholds and continue providing habitat so nightingales can thrive! 

Other exciting news this month included Kent Wildlife Trust and Andy Howard at Bockhanger Farms Ltd, taking part in one of 6 new projects funded by the Co-Op Carbon Innovation Fund. The project being delivered over 2 years with Reading University, will be carrying out on-farm trials, testing nitrogen use efficiency in winter wheat with the addition of a homemade liquid compost extract. To find out more, read the blog here: Kent Wildlife Trust wins bid to support regenerative farming in Kent, partnering with farmers on innovative crop trials | Kent Wildlife Trust 

An Upper Beult pond reflecting the sky, surrounded by trees.

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