A new year means lots of new projects to look forward to. Book now for Wood Meadows with George Peterken, the first of our new series of talks and events; Meadows, Mosaics and Mitigating Climate Change. … more on this to follow in the coming months. While it may not feel very spring like at the moment, it will be upon us before we know it and Plantlife are getting ready with their Spring into Action programme held throughout February (see below for more details). The degraded state of the River Wye continues to be in the news and on the radio. We know that species rich grasslands are part of the solution as they help mitigate water run-off, better regulate soil water levels and filter sediment and nutrients. So we are very excited to be working with the Wye & Usk Foundation on a new project to assess and restore floodplain meadows in the Wye Valley AONB. Also this month are details of a funding opportunity for meadow creation in North Herefordshire and the chance to input your opinions to a new UK Farm Discussion Group Network.
New Projects for 2022 and beyond:
Wye Valley Floodplain Project
We are excited to announce that we will be working alongside the Wye & Usk Foundation on a new project in the Wye Valley Floodplain funded by DEFRA’s Farming in Protected Landscapes scheme. The project, which will run until 2024, will involve conducting natural capital assessments within the WVAONB, to identify priority habitats, in particular floodplain meadows, to deliver improvements to their condition, connectivity and increase their extent within the landscape.
B-Lines Project in North Herefordshire
We are working with charity Buglife to find interested landowners who would like to be involved in an exciting project to achieve landscape scale pollinator connectivity. If you are a landowner within the section of the B-line shown on the map below and you would like to submit your interest to being involved in this new project we would love to hear from you. We are looking for sites where we can create or restore species-rich grassland on land parcels of over 2 hectares in size. If successful we will be able to offer landowners who fall within the project focus area; advice, soil analysis, vegetation surveys, wildflower seed and tailored management plans. The work is scheduled to take place in 2023
You can look at an online interactive B-lines map at https://www.buglife.org.uk/our-work/b-lines/
Email Project Officer Kate Jones on firstname.lastname@example.org by February 11th to register your interest in being involved in the North Herefordshire project bid.
If your land falls outside this B line we hope to have funds available in other projects and in the new ELMs scheme too – see below
Tuesday 1st – Monday 28th February: Spring into Action with Plantlife
Plantlife will be hosting a series of online events and talks throughout February covering a wide range of different topics including basic plant ID, meadow making at all scales and how we interact with the natural world around us. Not to be missed is the talk on February 15th from 18:00 – 19:00 entitled For the Love of Meadows – a guide to starting and running a meadows group which will feature Herefordshire Meadows Chair James Hawkins and Caroline Hanks along with representatives from meadows groups across the border; Andew Martin (Carmarthenshire Meadows Group) and Steph Tyler (Monmouthshire Meadows Group). Full details of the entire programme can be found here.
Meadows, Mosaics and Mitigating Climate Change – grazing animals in healthy ecosystems
- Thursday 17th February time TBC – ‘Wood Meadows’ with George Peterken
Renowned woodland ecologist, nature conservation advisor and author of the book Meadows (2013), George Peterken, will give a Zoom presentation covering; what are wood-meadows, are they alien to Britain and how can we create new wood meadows from woodland, grassland or arable?
A wood meadow is one of the richest habitats in temperate Europe. It is characterised by a mosaic of trees and grassland and high levels of structural and botanical diversity. As a consequence, they provide a haven for a wide range of wildlife and are integrated into many farm systems in mainland Europe
With special thanks to the team at the Wye Valley AONB for providing meeting space to host the webinar.
You will be sent the Zoom link shortly before the webinar for further details please visit our website.
Dates for the diary
- Wednesday 2nd March time TBC – ‘Grassland Carbon’ with Phil Wilson and Penny Anderson hosted by Plantlife Meadow Makers Project
In collaboration with Plantlife two speakers; Penny Anderson ecologist and Phil Wilson (ecologist and farmer) will discuss carbon sequestration and storage in UK grasslands.
Penny Anderson will begin by drawing upon her recent report ‘Carbon and Ecosystems: Restoration and Creation to Capture Carbon’ which discusses ways to capture more carbon from the atmosphere, whilst at the same time addressing the biodiversity crisis and incorporating other ecosystem services. Drawing upon more than ten years-worth of Natural England soil data Phil Wilson will then reveal what his data analysis shows about grassland carbon storage potential in relation to species-richness and grassland management systems.
Booking is through Plantlife – joining instructions to follow shortly
- Mid-March (TBC) – Shelterbelts and “living barn” wood pasture mosaics at Risbury Court courtesy of Rich Thomas
Anyone outwintering livestock might be interested to join us for a session discussing the theory and practicalities of trees and shelterbelts on farms and how these can support and enhance grasslands and grazing systems. Sam Hollick (Bangor University) will kick things off with a discussion of his PhD research work ‘Optimising landscape shelterbelts to sustainably increase farm livestock productivity’. We will then head out and see first-hand an example of one such scheme that has recently been planted and have the opportunity to discuss this in the field.
Joining instructions to follow.
Winter Meadow Management Workshop at Warren Farm
To read about the walk at Warren Farm on 13th December please see our website NEWS post. Our Herefordshire Meadows seedling chart is a helpful tool to assist with identification. A big thank you to James Hawkins who hosted us and presented the various management techniques he is using to increase species diversity on his grasslands across the farm.
Oxford Real Farming Conference 2022
The Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) was started in 2010 by Colin Tudge and Ruth West (founders of the Campaign for Real Farming) and agricultural writer, Graham Harvey, to highlight the alternatives to conventional farming and to offer all farmers a different kind of farming conference. In 2022 several of the talks were run as Zoom webinars and are now openly accessible to watch again here. This includes a talk on The Journey to a Regenerative Mindset with speakers including Annie Landless from Vidacycle. Watch this talk again here.
An Introduction to Conservation Grazing of Meadows – Parts 1 & 2
We talk a lot about appropriate grazing management techniques during the winter months and Moor Meadows recently hosted two online webinars discussing the vital role conservation grazing – grazing that helps promote biodiversity and animal health – plays in wildflower meadow management. You can watch the online webinars again here. Part 1. Part 2.
More Details of new Local Nature Recovery Scheme Announced
On Thursday 6th January, as well as publishing details of the new Landscape Recovery scheme, DEFRA gave more information on the Local Nature Recovery scheme. Within this it was stated that there will be a payment option for ‘managing, restoring and creating grassland habitats such as species-rich grassland on farms and in the wider countryside’. This is a promising first step and we will await further details on payment rates, timings and eligibility before the intended roll-out in 2024.
Get involved: UK Farm Discussion Group Network
NOT another discussion group but a network of almost 90 farmer discussion groups across the UK that we can all feed into. Sign up to this Network and you receive quarterly newsletter and short survey that feeds directly into future policy in UK.
Nutritionist Luppo Diepenbroek (Meadows Forum speaker 2019) is offering to come and talk to us at a future meeting in 2022 but the sooner we sign up the more influence we can have to make some sense of SFI, under-representation of grassland options for diverse swards and all the other farming issues that you may feel are unheard.
Please be sure to use HEREFORDSHIRE MEADOWS as our group name
Please let Caroline Hanks know when you’ve signed up and do ask any questions
The role of well rested and deep-rooted diverse swards
Below is a fantastic infographic by Christine Page which helps demonstrate the role of grazing systems with long rest periods and deep-rooted diverse swards in carbon sequestration. Farming in the way provides a means to tackle both the climate and biodiversity crisis simultaneously.
To find out if your grazing system supports rapid or slow carbon sequestration click this link or just click anyway for another great infographic
Herefordshire Meadows Team