The relatively warm autumn and winter has encouraged grass to continue growing while the rain has made it difficult to graze or get onto the land for management. The floodplain meadow sites have been underwater several times since September and other sites are waterlogged.
But on all pilot sites where seed has been sown or green hay strewn or fed, it is important to keep the sward open so that newly emerged or emerging seedlings aren’t swamped by the existing vegetation. Please continue checking meadows regularly – do they need additional grazing to reduce to existing vegetation cover before seedlings (and notably yellow rattle) emerge in the early spring? An alternative to grazing is cut and collect/topping but this seems an unlikely option anywhere given the wet ground conditions.
The challenge this year is keep the balance between grazing needed to achieve an open sward and avoiding poaching by livestock.
Following the last October’s seedling safari with Matt Pitts from Plantlife, a number of useful guidance notes were posted on the Resources page of the website. Please do have a look at these (below) and notably Matt’s Post Restoration Management summary which gives the key points for the 1st and 2nd year of management after restoration.
- How to manage a meadow for hay making and grazing pasture
- How do I know if my meadow restoration or recreation is succeeding?
- Restoring Wildflower Meadows – common reasons for not succeeding
- Arable reversion to species rich grassland – early management of new sward
If you have any queries about your pilot meadow do contact Caroline or Sue – send photos if it would help!