By lake Mälaren, on scenic Ekerö outside Stockholm, resides Menhammar Stud, with its successful horse breeding activities. Next door, at Menhammar Farm, the horses’ fodder is produced. The farm runs a strategic and long-term sustainable work to promote biodiversity and to reduce negative impacts on the environment.The interplay between agriculture and nature management at Menhammar is an extremely important factor for sustainability.
“Grazing animals make a big contribution to biodiversity on our natural pastures, waterside meadows and oak woodland. This work is impossible to replicate with machines,” says Markus Nilsson, Professional Gamekeeper at Menhammar.
“Our natural pastures, which have been grazed continuously for many years, develop what is known as ‘meadow diversity’. This means that the grazing animals keep more dominant plants such as grasses, trees and shrubs in check, so the soil remains open and offers unique habitats that result in greater diversity. We have already restored some pastures and we aim to continue this work.”
The pollinators and various predatory insects are also aided by the creation of beetle banks, wide strips of soil sown with suitable plants, and wildflower meadow strips in fields. The newly created phosphorus pond will greatly reduce the amount of phosphorus that drains off the land, thus reducing the eutrophication of Lake Mälaren.
Arable field margins along ditches, streams and forest edges also reduce nutrient leaching, as well as increase the biodiversity.
“Through careful planning of the type of field margins and placement of crops, these also make great places for hares, moose, deer and roe deer to graze,” says Markus Nilsson.
Another fact which contribute to the biodiversity is that the farming is chemical-free.
“We spend more time on mechanical weed control with harrows these days than we did before. But the upsides are greater; by not using chemicals, we’re doing pollinators and predatory insects a favour, which in turn is good for the crops,” says Ulf Segerström, Agricultural Operations Manager.