Therfield Heath Conservation

Therfield Heath Conservation

Friend of mine rented a farm vehicle but got ripped off. It was a con-tractor. 

Unlike the joke above, we have some excellent contractors on site so far this winter, you might have seen them working hard across the site to help improve the habitat for wildlife and humans alike.

We have had our grass cutting contractor working hard on some very frosty days, keeping the meadows cut short over the winter, which should keep it short until the spring. Your medieval farmer would have taken the hay cut then have livestock in the field for most if not all of the winter. Hooves pushed seed into the mud and the grass was nibbled low. We now use a sit on mechanical sheep to achieve the same effect at the moment. Keeping meadows like this in winter not only makes it tidy, but also allows sunlight to reach the perennial wildflowers.

These typically form low lying rosettes which aren’t harmed by cutting, even very tightly. Most over-wintering insects, eggs and larvae are unharmed too, particularly as we do leave areas around the margins which we will only cut every 2/3 years in rotation. Mowing also gives wildflower seeds a chance to germinate and flourish. If we didn’t cut our meadow areas like this the grasses would take over and we would lose the diversity and colour wildflowers bring. As I have previously discussed we do hope to rely more on livestock in the future so watch this space!

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