Farming with Nature: Badger Gardening

Rebecca Hosking
Monday, 23rd February 2015

Many farmers do not welcome badgers to their pastures as they dig holes and disturb the ground, quite apart from the TB debate. By contrast, Village Farm use their excavations opportunities to create a more biodiverse leys. Another example of how the farm world with nature, not against it.

We find quite a bit of badger activity on the farm. Most common being footprints, diggings in our pasture or, as Dave calls them, 'snuffle holes' and badger paths.

We have some incredibly well worn badger paths across our pasture and it seems it doesn't matter what we do in our fields the badgers will always walk that direct same path. Why is this so?

Well rather than it being a visual path, it's actually a scent path. Badgers have very poor eyesight compared to their sense of smell and they view the world as a scentscape rather than a landscape. Each path therefore carries the scent of the badgers that have used it. Badgers are also very territorial so paths can work as a boundary markers for different badger clans.

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Badger Gardening

Badgers are forever turning over patches of our pasture in their hunt for earthworms and small rodents. Rather than seeing this as a negative activity, we've thought laterally and have utilised their digging to sow wild flower/herb seed we've gathered into the pasture, thus improving the divesity of our pasture.

We cast the seed just before letting our flock into that paddock. We also add ewe / grass nuts to the seed as we scatter it so the sheep and goats will take greater interest in these areas and stamp the seed in firmly.

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We first tried this technique back in October, returned the flock back to the same paddock recently, giving us chance to examine the disturbed ground for our sown introductions. We noticed several herbs had established including sheep parsley, a couple of trefoils and some umbellifores.

We welcome the badger tilling because it does give us chance to introduce new species to our pastures that otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to seed naturally and we don't have to even use a spade.

Note: We've tried similar with mole hills and rabbit diggings too.

Further Resources!

Bovine TB, Badgers and Permaculture

Farming With Nature: why we welcome moles on the farm

Farming With Nature: Rewilding Pasture

Rebecca Hosking and Tim Green made the film Farm For the Future for the BBC exploring peak oil, climate change and permaculture.

They now run Village Farm, featured in Permaculture 83. In 'Farming With Nature', by Maddy Harland she describes how Village Farm is being transformed from a grazed out, ploughed out landcsape into a biodiverse farm with the help of holistic grazing, hedgerow regeneration, tree planting and other regenerative techniques.

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