Organic Farming Resurrects Fields of Poppies

Field of poppies

For the first time in 50 years, the fields at Neston House Farm in Wiltshire are abloom with spectacular swathes of bright red poppies—courtesy of the landowner's shift to organic farming.

Kept dormant since the 1960s by pesticides that were sprayed on the wheat fields, the poppies have blossomed in the wake of the farm's decision to allow the fields to grow wild (and, in doing so, increase the nitrate levels in the soil).

"It is an incredible sight—a real blanket of red," says Sandy Macfarlane, the farm's manager. "We knew the seeds were there but the pesticides have always kept them dormant. It's certainly a lot more attractive than a field full of wheat."The 1,300 acre farm, part of the 4,000 acre Neston Estate near Corsham, started going organic in 2006. It's currently in the middle of an "organic conversion," where three different types of clover are planted and mulched into the soil to boost nitrate levels.

Macfarlane hopes to sow his first crop of organic wheat next summer, when the densely gathered crop will throw enough shade to stop the poppies from growing back. Meanwhile, the 100 acres of his land that has erupted in poppies is proving a popular tourist attraction. :: Daily Mail

See also: :: Organic Farming Catching on in Virginia—Birds Celebrate, :: Cuba's Organic Revolution, and :: Organic Food: Making Climate Protection Taste Good

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