Fakenham sugar beet grower Robert Hambidge added 'a few more' seeds to his mix and ended up with a massive swathe of sunflowers.
Sugar beet grower Robert Hambidge, a former mayor of the Breckland town of Dereham, farms about 600 acres at Pudding Norton, near Fakenham. A supporter of conservation agriculture, he uses minimum tillage on his land — a farming method that preserves the soil structure intact and reduces erosion. He is also a member of the Upper Wensum Cluster Farm Group, a set of 22 farmers who work to improve water quality and support biodiversity in the Wensum River Valley.
As part of his conservation efforts, Mr Hambidge wanted to support wild birds so he decided to put some seed-rich flowers along the margin of one of his fields. However, ‘when I tipped the wild bird seed in the drill, I thought it looked a little light on sunflower seed,’ he wrote on Twitter. So he ‘added a few more’. Those ‘few more’ turned into an entire bag and the end result is a vast expanse of bright yellow flower-heads dancing from east to west as they follow the sun.
But Mr Hambidge is delighted with the consequences of his mistake. The sunflowers are already proving a haven for beleaguered bees and both they and the other seed-bearing flowers will keep wild birds fed as summer wanes into autumn and winter.
The happy accident also brings another advantage: the new sunflower strip is a great way to show how money coming to farmers via the Countryside Stewardship scheme is being used to benefit wildlife and the environment, as Mr Hambidge told the Eastern Daily Press.
‘I am next to the main road and what I do is quite visible to the public, so I was hoping that people will see these yellow strips and see what they are getting for their money,’ he said.