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Lush Lowlands - Rolling Farmland

Dairy cows graze the good grass growing country to the west
Dairy cows graze the good
grass growing country
to the west

Since Neolithic times over 6,000 years ago, farmers have influenced the landscape of the Southern Uplands. The lowland farm landscapes have richly coloured soils, flat or gently sloping ground, bounded by drystone dykes, mature hedges and tree avenues. Varied cropping provides seasonal varieties of colours and textures. In the east, mixed and arable farming have created larger, more open fields. Many farms have remained in the ownership of the same family for generations. The oldest farm buildings date back to the 17th century and use local stone and traditional building designs.

Farmers in the south of Scotland are famed for the excellence of the dairy and beef cattle and the sheep they breed. Lowland livestock and dairy farms are intensively managed with ryegrass pasture and fodder crops for the cattle. The mild, wet west is particularly good grass growing country and favoured by dairy farmers.

A barn owl surveys the evening landscape
A barn owl surveys
the evening landscape

Arable cropping is largely restricted to the lighter, drier soils of the eastern river valleys and coastal plains. Winter wheat and barley are the main crops with smaller areas of oilseed rape, well known varieties of potatoes and root crops. Arable land sustains birds like the skylark, linnet, tree sparrow, reed bunting, song thrush and grey partridge that are declining in other agricultural areas. Annual weeds attract insects and provide seeds while stubble offers vital winter-feeding.

Delicate wild flowers, including orchids, devil's-bit scabious and hawkbit thrive in older grassland and roadside verges, where voles are hunted by sparrowhawks and barn owls. Deciduous trees, hedges, stone dykes and boundary habitats created by farmers are important wildlife refuges and can act as wildlife corridors, allowing wildlife to disperse or colonise new areas.

Ditches, streams and areas of wetland, including rushy low-spots in pastures, river-valley meadows and lowland raised bog, are all important habitats for freshwater invertebrates and birds. Ragged Robin, Marsh Marigold and Meadow Sweet are among the plants found in the wetland areas,

Arabl farmland by the River Tweed in the Borders
Checking turnip seed, Castlecraig near Biggar
Arable farmland by the
River Tweed in the Borders.
 
Checking turnip seed,
Castlecraig near Biggar.

Useful links:

www.scotland.gov.uk/topics/agriculture
www.soilassociationscotland.org
www.rspb.org.uk/scotland
www.snh.gov.uk

 

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