3.3 Biodiversity recording

In monitoring biodiversity on your farm, you will begin to notice patterns of diversity, and can learn which farming practices create an environment that attracts birds and insects. Taking the time to stop and notice the wildlife can become a beneficial part of your farming routine, we’ve found it really helps us to farm more in tune with nature – a key part of farming more regeneratively.

How to record biodiversity on Soilmentor:

While on the phone app, click ‘Biodiversity & Fields’, select the field or area you’re in, and then select the group that the species you’ve spotted belongs to – either:

– Birds
– Butterflies / Moths
– Invertebrates
– Mammals

You can then select the species you’ve spotted from the dropdown list. The tool is focused on the range of different species of wildlife you can spot, and not the abundances, so you’ll notice there isn’t a built in count setting, but if you’d like to make a note of how many animals you’ve seen, you can add a note. You can also take photos of anything interesting, and record them alongside your observations.

Often biodiversity is found in hedgerows, around ponds and on back lanes – not necessarily in the middle of a field you are sampling! In order to add a new area of the farm you want to record biodiversity in follow this guide.

It’s up to you which method you choose to record your farm’s biodiversity! It can be completely ad hoc – whenever you spot something out on one of your chosen sample fields you can grab your phone and enter what you’ve seen. Or, you may choose to set aside some time to do a biodiversity blitz, and enter all the species you’ve seen after following a protocol.

What to record


  • Name of species spotted
  • Notes: maybe how many you saw
  • Photos

Equipment


  • Binoculars
  • Clear tupperware / collection pooter for catching insects
  • White card for observing insects
  • Magnifying glass
  • A quadrat, or a stretch of twine or rope for making a quadrat
  • The ‘Seek’ phone app by iNaturalist can be really useful for identification if you can get a good enough photo!

How to do the test

Method 1: Transect style walk (15 mins)

  • 5 mins: birds, mammals & butterflies & moths
  • 5 mins: invertebrate line transect on the ground
  • 5 mins: birds, mammals & butterflies & moths

a: 5 minutes: starting in the centre of one of the fields that you’re using for data collection, start a 5 minute timer, and begin to slowly walk to the margin of the field, stopping to record any species that you see in the Soilmentor app. At this stage, try to focus on birds, mammals and butterflies & moths.

b. 5 – 10 minutes: for the next 5 minutes, moving slowly in the same direction low down to the ground, focus on invertebrates by observing life among the crops / grass in the field. It’s advisable to pull plants to the side and look at the soil level occasionally, and it might help to bring some white card / tupperware / magnifying glass for catching and observing insects.

c. 10 – 15 minutes: now you can finish your walk to the margin of the field, again focusing on birds, mammals and butterflies. It’s up to you whether you choose to disallow anything seen outside the field margin (i.e. birds flying in the distance) – just make sure each time you go out recording, you are consistent with what you decide.

Method 2: Sample quadrat (15 mins)

  • 10 mins (birds, mammals & butterflies & moths)
  • 5 mins (invertebrates)

a: 10 minutes: (set a timer for 10 minutes) standing in one sample location in one of the fields being used for Soilmentor data collection, record any birds, mammals, butterflies or moths that you see in your surroundings  in the Soilmentor app. This can be a really nice, meditative task – you may not often get the chance to just be still and observe what’s around you!

b: 5 minutes: (set a timer for 5 minutes) put a quadrat on the ground, and search within that area for invertebrate species to record. Look on grass and crops and also at soil level when you can. It  might help to use a white card / tupperware / magnifying glass for catching and observing insects.