Encouraging biodiversity by allowing ground cover to flourish

Biodiversity is all about habitat. By encouraging beneficial ground cover around the stems, once the crop is established, many small creatures will make their homes there. This in turn attracts their predators and all the associated tiers of the biodiversity pyramid from there on.

More than 150 species of plant have been recorded growing in SRC willow at sites across England. These provide food for butterflies and many other insects and their predators. Ground flora diversity can help with weed control by outcompeting undesirable weeds. Floral diversity encourages beneficial predatory invertebrates for controlling pest species.

Careful choice of ground cover can also facilitate grazing by suitable livestock. Sheep, pigs and chickens will all thrive in an SRC or SRF energy crop plantation.

White Clover is an excellent addition to a willow or poplar plantation because it fixes nitrogen naturally.

Sheep can graze amongst willow stems without causing damage to them