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New study offers ‘win win’ for farming and wildlife
“Optimum farmland composition typically depends on whether to maximise production or biodiversity. But we have shown this doesn’t have to be the case."

Increased efficiency supports both production and conservation

A new study offers a framework for British farms to produce more food, whilst also supporting wildlife.

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) joined forces with Edinburgh Napier University and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, to design different feed rations for a model dairy herd.

The team explored how different mixtures of crops affected farmland wildlife, especially spiders and plants.

Using complex statistical models, they discovered it was possible to increase land efficiency by manipulating the crops needed to meet the dietary requirements of the herd. This freed up land which could be used for additional production or promoting biodiversity.

According to findings published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, biodiversity was greatest when the efficiency of the system was increased and spare land devoted to species-rich grassland.

Interestingly, biodiversity gains were also seen when the spare land was used for additional crop production. The largest gains were achieved when these extra crops supported different wildlife species.

Dr Patrick White, lecturer in conservation biology at Edinburgh Napier, said: “Optimum farmland composition typically depends on whether to maximise production or biodiversity. But we have shown this doesn’t have to be the case.

“Greatest ‘win-wins’ can be achieved by making productive land cover more diverse and selecting crops that complement each other in the species they support.”

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Huge spike in ‘designer’ dogs going into rescue

News Story 1
 The RSPCA has reported a huge spike in the number of ‘designer’ dogs arriving into its care.

Figures published by the charity show there has been a 517 per cent increase in the number of French bulldogs arriving into its kennels. During that time, the charity has also seen an increase in dachshunds, chihuahuas, and crossbreeds.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens said: “We know that the breeds of dog coming into our care often reflect the trends in dog ownership in the wider world and, at the moment, it doesn’t get more trendy than ‘designer’ dogs like French bulldogs and Dachshunds."


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News Shorts
AHDB Pork calls for stepped-up biosecurity

Pig farmers are being urged to step up biosecurity to reduce the risk of swine dysentery in their herds.

According to Farmers Weekly, AHDB Pork have confirmed cases in the north and east of the UK and is calling on producers to focus on hygiene to protect their animals.

Members of the AHDB Pork Significant diseases charter are reported to have been informed of the outbreaks.