Next generation of Flemish farmers gain valuable experience with PARTRIDGE flower blocks

29 June 2018 - Published by Paul Stephens
An alarming message was spread throughout Flanders recently: lapwings will reach the verge of extinction very soon in Flanders and the Netherlands if we don’t provide them with high-quality habitat.

Unfortunately, the situation of another tyical farmland bird, the grey partridge, is equally alarming. We all know what to do, however, provide them with food (winter and summer) and offer them a safe nesting place. Flemish agricultural school, VABI, is showing the future generation of farmers what they can do about it.

VABI is located in the heart of West Flanders, Belgium, which has a tradition of highly intensive farming. The school was inspired by the recent efforts in the PARTRIDGE demo area of Ramskapelle and decided to help spread the message and to roll up their sleeves themselves. ‘It is very important that the future generation of farmers are aware of their responsability towards farmland birds conservation and accept nature conservation as one the tasks inherent to farming’, sais Frédéric Boudry, crop manager with VABI. ‘That is why we decided to sow the PARTRIDGE farmland bird seed mix by means of demonstration for our students. The students themselves will perform the gesture of the flower block. I hope this will inspire them for the future.’

The multiannual flower block was sown in the beginning of May this year. Next spring, the students will mow and resow half of it. The year after, they will do the same with the other half. This way the flower block will allways consist of a half with annual species and a half with mainly perennial species. The first is preferred by grey partridge to hunt insects with their chicks, the latter provides perfect cover and is an ideal nesting place for the partridges.

Written by Willem Van Colen, agro-environmental researcher at Inagro (Belgium)