Making hay for wildlife

Joseph Bulmer

DEVON Wildlife Trust’s Working Wetlands Project team has been busy spreading “green-hay” on sites in North and West Devon to create more wildflower-rich meadows.

Green-hay refers to the process of cutting flower-rich grassland areas on existing wildlife sites and quickly baling them un-dried.

The bales are then transported to nearby sites where they are spread onto prepared ground to introduce the seed onto sites which are currently of lower wildlife value.

The process is a cost-effective way of enhancing or creating meadows and pastures as part of existing Natural England Environmental Stewardship agreements or to expand areas of wildlife habitat so landowners have more chance of securing a Stewardship agreement.

The Working Wetlands team has gained considerable experience planning and managing these projects with many hectares of ground now blooming with the plants which have been spread since the Devon Wildlife Trust’s landscape-scale project began in 2008.

Stuart Coleman from the Working Wetlands Team said: “The team have always worked closely with landowners and local contractors to make these projects a success, but this year Working Wetlands has expanded its own machinery-ring to include a new 90 hp tractor and fodder chopper/spreader so we can spread the flower-rich bales ourselves. This has made a real difference speeding up operations and reducing costs for landowners enabling even more fields to be enhanced in this way.“

One of the projects completed last month was 5.5 ha of fields at Simon Kerslake’s Higher Grinacombe holding in Broadwoodwidger.