Diversification – the natural landscape14/12/20
In recent years, rural communities have changed considerably and so has the role of farming. Vast swathes of countryside are no longer filled with cattle or used to grow crops. But many of these places offer a great deal in terms of natural beauty and interesting landscapes. From rivers and mountains, to woodland and meadows, the ever-changing, seasonal landscape can offer a variety of opportunities to attract visitors and generate supplementary revenue, in addition to more conventional farming activities.
There are many ingenious ways to attract visitors. If you are an arable farmer, you may grow maize. In the years since 1973, this has become an extremely popular crop in the UK. Around 50 years ago in England, about 8,000 hectares were grown, but it is now approaching 180,000 hectares. I
Maize can be used on farms to feed anaerobic digesters, which produce fuel. Maize gives high yields, both in terms of product per hectare and per cubic metre of biogas produced. It’s become the most readily grown bulk product in the UK. It is easily cultivated in a variety of soil types, which helps its popularity too. Another bonus with maize is the fact that when it’s sown and grown, but before it’s harvested, it reaches a good height – often three metres, or 10 feet. This makes it ideal for creating mazes, by flattening out a path through the plants. Finding your way out of the labyrinth can create hours of fun and spawn dozens of maize-related puns on the signage too!
Hitting the trail
If you have land that has a variety of different topographical features on your estate, it could be possible to open part of it to the public to explore via a nature or history trail. You may already have footpaths, bridleways and other public rights of way across your land, but creating a specific route for visitors to follow will make it a more memorable experience. You could include display boards, leaflets or signage pointing out interesting features, such as native flora and fauna.
If you have anything of historical or geological interest on site, these could be used to publicise the walk too – a hillfort or site of an ancient settlement could be of great historical interest. With the changing seasons, the landscape changes too, which will offer a variety different views and moods to the nature trails. Rivers and woodland will also attract visitors, with their diverse environments, and you can plan out a route that encompasses all these unique features into one trail.
The changing countryside landscape throughout the year can offer a great backdrop for filmmakers or still photographers. If you have photogenic aspects to your land and the space to allow easy access, then allowing your property and land to be used by filmmakers can be an exciting, unusual option. Plus it can be a source of extra income. In the countryside, the seasons create their own, ever-changing natural beauty. If you think your estate includes suitable locations, you can register with companies online, such as ukfilmlocation.com. They are always interested in filming in homes of all shapes, sizes and vintages, in rural locations, interesting outside spaces, or safe derelict buildings. Their filmmaking and photographic clients, in films, television and media, are on the lookout for locations for next video project. By registering your location, your property and land could be used for a music video, fashion shoot, a scene in a TV series or a feature film. It’s often free to register and you would be paid a fee for your location being used.
If you’d like to find out more about what diversification opportunities are open to you as a landowner, then please contact our Staffordshire or Shropshire offices here.