Mysterious ways

The Women that Farm group joined David from Reveal Nature UK for a bio fluorescent night walk at Deepdale Farm and discovered that a world of colour exists in the natural world that we are simply not aware of.

‘We know just a tiny fraction of what takes place interms of bio fluorescent activity,’ said David as he handed out UV torches and glasses to the group ahead of their walk around the organic farm and its woodland.

For those who are new to the term, bio fluorescence is the absorption of light at one wavelength followed by its re-emission at a lower energy and longer wavelength by a living organism. It is usually a response to Ultraviolet (UV) light and comes in an assortment of bright and wonderful colours.

Biofluorescence occurs in a variety of organisms including insects, plants, lichen, mushrooms, fish, coral, amphibians, and some species of birds and mammals.

It is one of Nature’s greatest hidden secrets and an area that we have only just begun to explore, with countless discoveries yet to be made.

As the group walked (or stumbled) in the darkness, the amazing light emissions showed just how vibrant and active the natural world is. David explained that the way we were seeing things with the and of UV light is how most other creatures see the world. So blue grass, red stinging nettles, vibrant yellow snails and glowing mycelium is nothing new to the animals, birds and insects.

There is much speculation about why some creatures and plants glow under UV, and scientists have only just realised how wide-spread the phenomenon is. Field studies are required to examine if there are any advantages or disadvantages of this ability within these animals’ natural environment and to see whether biofluorescence has a role in communication, sexual selection, camouflage or no obvious function at all.

From a farming with nature perspective, the walk highlighted the amount of life that is contained within hay meadows, woodland and, in particular, decaying wood.