Location: Llandre, Borth
Area: 1.6 Hectares
This site contains two neutral grassland fields and a corner of marshy grassland with a small pond. The neutral grassland was subject to power-harrowing and seeding from previous years, but due to the lack of grazing and/or hay cutting, the site has become grass species dominant, and “rank”.
The current owners bought the site in 2000, as a plot of land with a derelict barn, prior to this the land was used to graze cattle by a neighbouring farm. Land use soon changed to taking a crop of hay once a year rather than grazing. No fertilizers or chemicals have been applied to the land since their ownership. As the years passed, more wild flower species became present in the fields.
In 2010, the land was entered into an agreement with Wildmeadows Wales, where a grant was available to prepare the land and re-seed it with seeds sourced from the National Botanic Gardens in Wales. An annual hay cut was continued to be taken, but the number of bales produced each year declined, and the neighbouring farmer’s health deteriorated to the point where he was no longer able to take the hay.
No hay has been produced on the fields for approximately four years, hence why they have become overgrown and species dominant.
· To establish a diverse, flower rich neutral grassland hay meadow, through hay cutting and grazing.
· Increase the aquatic habitat by restoring the pond.
The fields shall be closed off from livestock from April 1st each year, to allow the grass and wild flowers to grow. From mid of July, the grass will be cut to produce hay. By this time, the wild flowers will have produced their seeds, and by spreading the hay, the seeds will be dispersed, many of them dropping onto the floor. Many of the seeds will stay in the flowers, and will be baled along with the hay, this hay is called “species rich hay”.
Once the hay has been cleared, livestock will be kept away for another 4 weeks to allow the vegetation to re-establish, this growth is called “aftermath”. Ponies or cattle will be used to graze the aftermath, on this site it is decided that Welsh Mountain Ponies will be used. The purpose of the ponies will be to control the height of the grass, and to gently cut up the surface of the fields, just enough for any seeds dropped from the flowers to be buried.
The grazing will be monitored to ensure that the ponies are doing a satisfactory job. The fields should not be over-grazed or under-grazed, and care should be taken that the ponies don’t severely poach or damage the fields when they become wet. Po
nies may lightly graze the fields during winter, but should the fields become saturated with rain water they will be taken away so they don’t cause damage.
The whole site will be monitored during the spring and summer to identify different plant species, and their population.
Some of the different wildflower species currently found at the site include:
- Oxeye Daisy
- Heath Spotted Orchid
- Yellow Rattle
- Bird’s Foot Trefoil
- Marsh Thistle
- Cuckoo flower
Work carried out to date:
February 2020: Cut, collect and remove the old matted grass growth.
February/March 2020: Install new stock fencing around the largest of the two fields.
Work to do:
July 2020: Cut and bale hay (weather depending!)
August 2020: Introduce ponies
Autumn 2020: Pond restoration