Biodiversity at The Ethical Dairy

We use the term biodiversity a lot when we talk about our farming system because it is incredibly important to the way we farm here at Rainton.  Put simply the term biodiversity means biological diversity.  Biodiversity is the web of life; the interconnected ecological system that is nature in all its glorious complexity. 

There has been a great deal of interest in the media recently about biodiversity loss – in particular the disappearing insects, butterflies and birds. There are concerns that biodiversity loss and potential ecological collapse could be a greater threat to humanity than climate change.  We share those concerns.

Industrial farming practices, both arable and livestock, have been criticised as a contributing factor to biodiversity loss. Biodiversity on a farm creates an integrated food web where animal, plant and microbial life largely self regulate.  On monoculture farms – single species crop stands – biodiversity struggles to exist.  Monoculture is typical of large scale industrial farming.

What we do is different.  Increasing biodiversity on our farm has been a priority for us for the last 20 years when we transitioned to organic and planted 35,000 mixed broadleaf trees on our farm.  Our conversion to organic saw the return of farming practices which benefit wildlife rather than threaten it.  We can see, every day, the difference that prioritising biodiversity has made. 

Our planted hedgerows and well maintained dykes provide a haven for wildlife.  We no longer use pesticides or herbicides so wildflowers thrive in our pastures and offer safe refuge to countless bumblebees, dragonflies and butterflies, and our native woodland provides safe haven for the endangered and iconic red squirrel. 

Our farm is teeming with life and we have worked with environmental organisations to record and document the species that are found on our farm. Following species surveys two large areas of our farm were designated as Local Wildlife Sites.  This is a nationally recognised designation for areas of land that are especially important for wildlife. 

We've listed below some of the species that have been officially recorded on our farm, but there is one little insect in particular that we would like to introduce you to. The rather blurry photo below is the larvae of green dock beetle and it controls dock leaves in our pastures very effectively.  In fact this little creature absolutely devours dock leaves; getting rid of them much more effectively than the gallons of Dicamba (benzoic acid herbicide) we used to lash on the pastures which controlled our docks but killed our clovers. 

This is why high biodiversity matters. It does take time, but when you work with nature rather than against it, nature works for you. 

<<< Scroll beneath the photos for full list of recorded species >>>

Green dock beetle larve
Dock leafs are left like fine lace
Our organic pasture is rich in biodiversity
Common Blue butterfly
Cowslips
Candlesnuff Fungus
Rookery
Pond full of spawn
Stitchwort & Bluebells

Recorded Species at Rainton Farm

Mammals

  • Bank Vole
  • Brown Hare
  • Brown Long-eared Bat
  • Common Pipistrelle Bat
  • Eurasian Badger
  • Eurasian Common Shrew
  • Eurasian Red Squirrel
  • European Mole
  • European Otter
  • European Rabbit
  • Red Fox
  • Roe Deer
  • Field Vole
  • Long Tailed Shrew
  • Weasel
  • Stoat

Reptiles & Amphibian

  • Adder
  • Common Frog
  • Common Lizard
  • Common Toad
  • Great Crested Newt
  • Smooth Newt

Red & Amber List Birds (Birds of Conservation Concern)

  • Barn Owl
  • Black-headed Gull
  • Bullfinch
  • Curlew
  • Dunnock
  • Grasshopper Warbler
  • Greylag Goose
  • Houe Martin
  • House Sparrow
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull
  • Linnet
  • Little Grebe
  • Mallard
  • Meadow Pipit
  • Red Kite
  • Redstart
  • Shelduck
  • Skylark
  • Song Thrush
  • Spotted Flycatcher
  • Starling
  • Stockdove
  • Swallow
  • Wheater
  • Whitethroat
  • Willow Warbler
  • Yellowhammer

Other Birds

  • Barn Swallow
  • Black-billed Magpie
  • Blackbird
  • Blackcap
  • Blue Tit
  • Buzzard
  • Carrion Crow
  • Chaffinch
  • Chiffchaff
  • Coal Tit
  • Collared Dove
  • Common Redpoll
  • Crows
  • Eurasian Jackdaw
  • Eurasian Jay
  • Eurasian Sparrowhawk
  • Eurasian Teal
  • Eurasian Tree Sparrow
  • Eurasian Treecreeper
  • European Goldfinch
  • European Robin
  • Fieldfare
  • Garden Warbler
  • Goldcrest
  • Goldfinch
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker
  • Great Tit
  • Greenfinch
  • Grey Heron
  • Grey Partridge
  • Grey Wagtail
  • Hedge Accentor
  • Herring Gull
  • Kestrel
  • Lesser Redpoll
  • Lesser Whitethroat
  • Long-tailed Tit
  • Merlin
  • Mistle Thrush
  • Moorhen
  • Mute Swan
  • Nuthatch
  • Peregrine
  • Pheasant
  • Pied Wagtail
  • Raven
  • Red Kite
  • Redwing
  • Reed Bunting
  • Rook
  • Sedge Warbler
  • Snipe
  • Starling
  • Stock Pigeon
  • Stonechat
  • Swift
  • Tawny Owl
  • Whinchat
  • Whooper Swan
  • Wigeon
  • Winter Wren
  • Wood Pigeon
  • Woodpeckers
  • Wren

Insect (Butterfly)

  • Common Blue
  • Green-veined White
  • Large Skipper
  • Large White
  • Meadow Brown
  • Northern Brown Argus
  • Orange-tip
  • Painted Lady
  • Peacock
  • Red Admiral
  • Ringlet
  • Small Copper
  • Small Heath
  • Small Tortoiseshell
  • Small White
  • Wall

Insect (Moth)

  • Barred Umber
  • Brown Silver-line
  • Clouded Drab
  • Common Lutestring
  • Common White Wave
  • Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet
  • Diarsia
  • Early Thorn
  • Engrailed
  • Flame Carpet
  • Foxglove Pug
  • Hebrew Character
  • Latticed Heath
  • Little Emerald
  • Lychnis
  • Nut-tree Tussock
  • Pale-shouldered Brocade
  • Red Twin-spot Carpet
  • Scalloped Hazel
  • Scorched Wing
  • Silver Y
  • Silver-ground Carpet
  • Small Phoenix
  • Speckled Yellow
  • Streamer
  • Treble Lines
  • Water Carpet
  • White Ermine

Flowering Plants

  • Annual Meadow-grass
  • Ash
  • Aspen
  • Barren Brome
  • Blackthorn
  • Bluebell
  • Bogbean
  • Bramble
  • Branched Bur-reed
  • Broad-leaved Dock
  • Broad-leaved Willowherb
  • Broom
  • Bugle
  • Burnet Rose
  • Cat's-ear
  • Cleavers
  • Cock's-foot
  • Common Bent
  • Common Bird's-foot-trefoil
  • Common Chickweed
  • Common Dog-violet
  • Common Duckweed
  • Common Hemp-nettle
  • Common Knapweed
  • Common Mouse-ear
  • Common Nettle
  • Common Poppy
  • Common Ragwort
  • Common Sorrel
  • Common Spike-rush
  • Common Spotted-orchid
  • Compact Rush
  • Cowslip
  • Creeping Buttercup
  • Creeping Soft-grass
  • Creeping Thistle
  • Crested Dog's-tail
  • Cuckooflower
  • Curled Dock
  • Cut-leaved Crane's-bill
  • Daisy
  • Deschampsia cespitosa
  • Dove's-foot Crane's-bill
  • Downy Birch
  • Elder
  • Enchanter's-nightshade
  • English Stonecrop
  • False Oat-grass
  • Field Forget-me-not
  • Floating Sweet-grass
  • Foxglove
  • Germander Speedwell
  • Glaucous Dog-rose
  • Gorse
  • Great Willowherb
  • Greater Bird's-foot-trefoil
  • Greater Plantain
  • Greater Stitchwort
  • Greater Tussock-sedge
  • Ground-ivy
  • Groundsel
  • Hawthorn
  • Hazel
  • Heath Bedstraw
  • Heath Groundsel
  • Heath Speedwell
  • Hedge Woundwort
  • Hemlock Water-dropwort
  • Herb-Robert
  • Hieracium
  • Hogweed
  • Knotgrass
  • Lady's Bedstraw
  • Lesser Burdock
  • Lesser Celandine
  • Lesser Stitchwort
  • Lesser Trefoil
  • Marsh Foxtail
  • Marsh Pennywort
  • Marsh Thistle
  • Meadow Buttercup
  • Meadow Fescue
  • Meadow Vetchling
  • Meadowsweet
  • Moschatel
  • Nipplewort
  • Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage
  • Oval Sedge
  • Oxeye Daisy
  • Perennial Rye-grass
  • Pignut
  • Pineappleweed
  • Prickly Sow-thistle
  • Primrose
  • Ranunculus flammula subsp. flammula
  • Raspberry
  • Red Bartsia
  • Red Campion
  • Red Clover
  • Redshank
  • Ribwort Plantain
  • Rosebay Willowherb
  • Rough Meadow-grass
  • Rowan
  • Sanicle
  • Sea Pearlwort
  • Selfheal
  • Sessile Oak
  • Shepherd's-purse
  • Sherard's Downy-rose
  • Skullcap
  • Slender St John's-wort
  • Smooth Hawk's-beard
  • Smooth Sow-thistle
  • Soft-Brome
  • Spear Thistle
  • Square-stalked Willowherb
  • Sticky Mouse-ear
  • Sun Spurge
  • Sweet Vernal-grass
  • Sycamore
  • Taraxacum officinale agg.
  • Timothy
  • Tormentil
  • Trailing St John's-wort
  • Tufted Vetch
  • Two-rowed Barley
  • Upright Hedge-parsley
  • Violet
  • Water Forget-me-not
  • Water Mint
  • White Clover
  • Wild Strawberry
  • Wood Anemone
  • Wood Avens
  • Wood Dock
  • Wood Sage
  • Woodruff
  • Wood-sedge
  • Wood-sorrel
  • Yarrow
  • Yellow Iris
  • Yellow Pimpernel
  • Yorkshire-fog
  • Zigzag Clover

Fern

  • Bracken
  • Broad Buckler-fern
  • Male-fern

Fungus

  • Alder Bracket
  • Amethyst Deceiver
  • Birch Polypore
  • Birch Woodwart
  • Blue Edge Pinkgill
  • Burgendydrop Bonnet
  • Candlesnuff
  • Clouded Funnel
  • Dark Honey Fungus
  • Deer Shield
  • Dung Roundhead
  • Glistening Inkcap
  • Golden Waxcap
  • Hazel Glue Crust
  • Hazel Woodwart
  • Horsehair Parachute
  • King Alfred's Cakes
  • Meadow Waxcap
  • Nitrous Waxcap
  • Phallus impudicus var. impudicus
  • Psathyrella candolleana
  • Purple Jellydisc
  • Snowy Waxcap
  • Stinkhorn
  • Sulphur Tuft
  • The Deceiver
  • Vermillion Waxcap

...plus an abundance of dragonflies, damsel flies, beetles, spiders, soil invertebrates and other insects, too many to mention but each of them contributing to the rich and varied ecosystem of our farm.