Kevin Prince has wide experience of farming and rural business in Hampshire, where he lives near Andover, and across southern England as a director in the Adkin consultancy. His family also run a diversified farm with commercial lets, holiday cottages and 800 arable acres.


THE frantic rush to get hedgerows cut by the end of February is ended so road users are less likely to be held up by the slow moving tractor with 20 lights blazing and a yellow crane-like contraption on the back.

As frustrating as it is to be sitting behind one of those machines it does a necessary job for the road safety of us all and every farmer in the country appreciates the patience of road users stuck behind a hedgecutter. Next time you are, do spare a thought for the poor driver of the machine; it is a stressful job which requires immense levels of concentration and eyes in the side as well as the back of your head!

However, some hedgerows that are being managed in the traditional way may still be getting cut at this time of year in order to “lay” them and rejuvenate them. Apart from the addition of a chainsaw (to speed the process) many of the tools and techniques used for laying hedges have remained unchanged for generations. With simple tools an expert can transform a wild, tall, gappy hedge into a neat, healthy stockproof living fence which injects new vigour into the hedgerow plants for several seasons.

READ MORE: Hampshire luxury hotel ranked as one of the best UK wedding venues

Hampshire Chronicle:

Seeing a newly laid hedge always makes me think of how every hedgerow has its own personality, some require enormous amounts of time, love and money in order to thrive, others are always unruly no matter how much care you give them and more seem to just want to wander wherever they want. Of course I am sure it can be explained scientifically by reference to the soil and micro-climate each species of hedge plant grows in best, but I can see why old country lore thought they were magical. They are certainly living beings and the lifeblood of bio-diversity.

It was good to see that, even if indirectly, the importance of hedgerows was acknowledged by the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, at the National Farmers Union conference in February. In his remarks and packages announced on the same day was a continued pledge to the Sustainable Farming Incentive, the scheme introduced to assist the continued transition away from the old EU-backed schemes.

It was also good to see that there was a clear acknowledgement that food production is still the crucial, and primary, role of the majority of farmers. As an industry, farmers know that the markets will continue to change; however, food production is still at the heart of the majority of land management businesses in this country.

Whatever happens politically over the next 12 months it is vital that food production remains on the political agenda. Without an underlying and viable business, farmers cannot undertake the maintenance of hedgerows, the planting of new woodland, or the creation or management of any other habitat. To keep the countryside living and nurture those hedges, regardless of whether they are the needy ones or the unruly ones, food production (at least for the foreseeable future) needs to be protected and supported in this country.