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Rabbits are welcomed into some wheat fields

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: September 27, 2012

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RABBITS have saved the day for some wheat farmers.

Arable expert Neil Potts, from Matford, near Exeter, has heard from several growers that grazing by rabbits proved one of the best counters to a summer he described as the worst in 30 years.

He said rabbits were usually a pest in wheat fields but came into their own during 2012.

He said: "They've been eating off a lot of diseased leaf and that has helped to reduce the pressure from ear blight.

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"A lot of farmers are saying that grazed crops have benefited. This year the pressure of disease is so high anything that relieved that has been a help."

Although organic farmers will sometimes graze off with sheep it is not going to become common practice to welcome rabbits into the nation's wheat fields.

Landowners are obliged by law to fence-proof their fields to stop rabbits escaping into neighbouring land.

They can be prosecuted if they fail to heed warnings from Natural England once a neighbour has complained.

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