Saturday 29 May 2010

Stripping and clipping (in more ways than one)

This is one of our hay meadows, photographed yesterday. When this was a working dairy and beef farm, fertiliser was applied to the fields and they had a limited flora. Since then we have been managing them with the aim of nutrient-stripping, with some being used as hay meadows and others being grazed. Nutrient levels have fallen dramatically: the hay yield in 2003 was 68% of that the previous year. In 2004 it was 58% and in 2009 just 38%.

Alongside this, there has been a considerable increase in bioversity in these meadows. Later in the summer they will be full of Yellow Bartsia.

Note the hedgerows in that top photo. There are several kilometres of them on the farm. A Hedgerow Importance Test was kindly conducted on a wide selection of the hedges last summer by Shanelle Edelman, a student at the University of Exeter. Most of them had an overall score of 8 or above, which means that they are precious! We'll need to give some of them a trim soon as they're getting a bit leggy.

The contractor has now finished excavating the old trackway (see post on 15th March). All we have to do now is wait a year and two and it should be full of Pygmy Rush and other astonishingly rare plants! Whilst on the job, he seems to have run ever so slightly wide in one particular gateway, but all credit to him, he replaced the gate immediately.

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