When Bright Seeds took on Dean Lane Farm in March 2020, our vision was clear. We wanted to create a high-quality working environment to ensure we continue to supply our products efficiently, whilst enabling us to adapt to an ever-changing industry.
We used some of the existing buildings to form the framework for our new warehousing, and moved our seed-mixing plant from our previous premises – and we fitted a new seed cleaning machine. The energy required for the new offices and warehousing comes from a combination of solar panels and a ground-source heat pump, making the site sustainable. We have tried to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
Dean Lane Farm was a working dairy farm, milking approximately 100 Ayrshire cows. Other than the hedgerows and woodland, the entire farm was grass – a combination of permanent pasture and shorter-term ryegrass leys. We have enhanced the permanent grassland by adding wildflower seed to create a wildflower meadow habitat. Initially, we put a couple of the fields into forage maize for the neighbouring farm. This was due to a very high weed-burden. The maize allowed us to clean the ground with selective herbicides. Now that the ground is cleaner, we have turned our attention to more wildflower seed crops and establishing more hedging and stewardship options.
We entered the farm into mid-tier countryside stewardship. The addition of a range of conservation crops has had obvious benefits to the biodiversity on the farm. We have established as many different stewardship options as possible so we can showcase them to our customers, these include winter-bird food plots, nectar mixes, grass margins, floristically-enhanced margins, beetle banks, hedgerows, supplementary feeding and herb-rich meadows. We also covered the maize stubbles with a fodder radish-based cover crop.
Our wildflower seed crops provide a great nectar source throughout the summer too. We grow a wide range of species which means we get a staggered flowering over a longer period. We also entered six hectares into GS4 (Herbal Ley). We direct drilled the mix into moisture in early autumn and it has established well. It is important that we keep a close eye on this crop as we are doing a lot of research and monitoring of drought-tolerant options, and herbal leys contain many species that show good drought-tolerant properties.
We have also planted over 1500 metres of hedging to help create more connectivity across the farm.
The trial site is a big part of Dean Lane Farm too, and we were pleased to be able to expand the size of the area from previous sites. The trial site area now covers over two hectares, meaning we can extend our trials to more complex herbicide and seed mixture trials. This has helped us to develop new mixtures such as our SOS Mix and Highland Pheasant & Finch. Bright Maize, our sister company that specialises in forage maize and grass, also use an area at Dean Lane Farm to trial all their forage maize varieties.
We will have open days at Dean Lane Farm in 2023, and will keep you posted with dates and information once they are confirmed.