Organic farming benefits opportunist wild plants

Statement date: Wednesday 18 March

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An oasis for Somerset's declining wild plants

Many traditional arable weeds and wild flowers have seriously declined in Somerset since a plant survey done 20 years ago, but happily there are still plenty to be found here at Stowey Rocks Farm. We have three Dead-nettles: Red Dead-nettle, Cut-leaved and Henbit, pictured in that order. The latter two are scarce and were found by Rosemary Fitzgerald (from the Somerset Rare Plants Group) on the farm yesterday. She described them as "noble survivors of the neutral to acid plant community". Our soils tend to be a bit acid and that, along with organic growing practices, namely working with annual weeds and leaving them to grow once a crop is established, and the complete ban on herbicide use in organic farming, is providing a great environment for opportunist weeds to thrive. It was fascinating to talk to Rosemary and learn a bit about plant identification and the survey work that the Somerset Rare Plants Group are doing. They are a friendly and incredibly knowledgeable group, so if you are lucky enough to have them survey your area, grab the chance to glean some interesting details about local wild plants.