A mechanically cut farm hedge

A mechanically cut farm hedge

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Credit: DR JEREMY BURGESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: A roadside hedge in East Anglia UK, abutting farmland. The picture shows a mixed hedge of ash and dog rose that has been cut with a tractor-mounted rotary cutter, before leaf break. Mechanical hedge-cutting is faster and more economical than traditional hedge-laying. The purpose of hedges has changed in regions where mixed farming has given way to intensive arable, as here. There is no longer a need to maintain a stock-proof barrier continuously; hedge-cutting merely controls the hedge height, and reduces shading, without stimulating basal growth. The result is a visual barrier; but with a reduced value to wildlife due to its open structure, particularly at the base. The proportion of hedges being laid in the UK declined from about 50% to 2% in the six decades to 2010. Hedges in several EU countries are designated a priority habitat under the Biodiversity Strategy.

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Keywords: eu biodiversity strategy, hedge, hedge-cutting, intensive arable farming, laid hedge, mechanical hedge cutter, priority habitat, rotary cutter

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