Farmland ponds are numerous along the Sandstone Ridge but do they have any relevance in a changing agricultural landscape? To find out, members of the Sandstone Ridge Farmer Network visited Meadow Bank Farm in Broxton on Monday 20 August 2018, to learn more about the value of farmland ponds. Hosted by Keith Siddorn, the event began in the 'Hayloft' with a short presentation from pond expert, Andrew Hull, before visiting a series of ponds and pond sites on Keith's land.
Despite the on-going dry conditions in late August, all ponds held water and were alive with wildlife; particularly dragonflies and damselflies which were busily hunting and breeding in and around all the ponds. Andrew explained the importance of farmland ponds and their role as 'stepping stones' in the landscape, providing vital habitats for amphibians, aquatic invertebrates and some bird species.
The group learnt that an important element of any pond management plan was the importance of the surrounding terrestrial habitat. Furthermore, open ponds are of greater wildlife value than those small water bodies which are completely shaded by trees.
The extremely hot weather conditions of August 2018 were carefully considered, with the group being transported around the farm on Keith's trailer! We were dutifully dropped off, back at the 'Hayloft', where we consumed fantastically delicious beef rolls; courtesy of the Hereford herd which graze the land we had just visited. There was a consensus from members of the Farmer Network that farmland ponds were, indeed, 'pearls in the landscape' and that they would consider future pond management in a different light.