Young trees for a new hedgerow - a rare sight in potato country these days.
Also, on today's Sunday drive, Mark pointed out, over and over, how many hedgerows have been taken out lately. There is one neighbouring farmer of ours in particular has taken an especially strong aversion to those pesky trees and 'opened up' field after field after field, creating huge prairies of landscape, all bleeding one into the other.
As we drove we critically discussed the reasoning for so much hedgerow removal with cycism and disgust, but I really wanted to know why. We know the farmers and know that they are not unreasonable people so I was convinced that there had to be a really good reason to invest the time and money into removing well established hedgerows. Some of my best speculations added up to:
- no trees=no interference with big equipment (ie. spray booms, etc.)?
- no trees=no snow retention in the spring, so quicker to get on the land?
- no hedgerows make for that much more land to farm? Trees don't make money year after year.
- hedgerows can harbour pests through the winter?
- snow retention=poor man's fertilizer. snow is great for soil.
- wildlife habitat
- safer wildlife corridor to forested areas
- windbreaks against erosion
- windbreaks against crop damage
- pollinator habitat
- water erosion prevention by trapping soil particles and creating breaks in sloping land.
- organic matter from leaf drop, soil break down
- buffer zone from neighbouring spray drift, dust, smells
- retain more water in the summer against drying winds, reducing irrigation needs
- trees= good. We all learn, as children, the benefits of trees to our own existence. I now know as well, the importance of mycorhizae fungi which sequester a LOT of carbon from the air, but only exist in low tillage, no spray soil. Taking out trees means that land will now be put into 'normal' production and we can say goodbye to those helpful little critters.
SURELY THE VALUE OF THE SNOW IN THE SPRING MAKES IT WORTHWHILE KEEPING THE HEDGEROW!?!?!?!
A few summers ago I worked on a pilot project called the Ecological Goods and Services (EG&S)Program, designed to pay farmers to go above and beyond environmental regulations. It became the basis for PEI's Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) which is a really pared down version of the program, but has some of the same bones of the EG&S. Anyway, under the EG&S there was a nice payment for hedgerows which met certain criteria (certain width, height and mixture of species, etc.) and now I can really appreciate the value of that program. I hated the program when I started working with it because I didn't understand why the public should be expected to pay the farmer to do things that ultimately benefit themselves in the end, but are considered 'inconveniences' in the scheme of production. If Cavendish truly is the driving force behind the removal of those trees this may be the perfect illustration of why a program like EG&S is so important. It gives the farmer the opportunity to weigh the options and consider the real benefits against the pressures and 'suggestions' of their 'customer'.
Yes, it's a Sunday in winter and I'm making up for lost blog/rant time. Enjoy!