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Treacodactyl

Cutting meadows

I may have a few acres of meadow to look after. Long term plan is to graze animals and make hay but not for a year or two.

The grass hasn't been fertilised much over the years and it's full of wild flowers, clover, etc and the grass isn't that vigorous - a typical wild flower meadow. No noticeable thistles and very little dock.

However, I may not get round to doing much this year and wonder what, if any, damage would be done if it's not cut at all this year? Would it mat up, would the wild flowers suffer if the grass isn't cut and taken off?no smilies
NorthernMonkeyGirl

I think you're best cutting it and removing the clippings if you possibly can, but I also think that one year won't be life-or-death for the vast majority of plants. Was it cut last year?
On the other hand, a year of not being cut will allow even late flowers to set seed (and everything seems to be late this year), you're just gambling that the grass won't be able to swamp everything in that time.
On the other other hand, next year's management may be trickier if the grass this year gets very long before dying and lying flat.

See how (un)helpful I am :lol:no smilies
Rob R

Is having it grazed something you'd like to contract out for this year? It's a bit far for me, but I could put the word out in grazing circles if you wanted someone to take it on for this season FOC.no smilies
Nick

Grazing it would certainly improve the land, even if it didn't bring an income.no smilies
Cathryn

Grazing it would certainly improve the land, even if it didn't bring an income.


Yes

and no.

What was pre grazing and what is "improved"

:)no smilies
Cathryn

I throw this in wondering.

Improved from what and when?no smilies
Nick

Rather than not taking the grass off. If just left, ours used to become matted and suffer. We are quite wet tho, and it would almost rot in the late winter, early spring, with the frosts, and such.no smilies
Cathryn

Suffer?

It would change. It would not be the same flowery meadow. What would it become?no smilies
Tavascarow

Cutting it after the majority of flowers have set & leaving it to rot will probably do no harm but equestrians will pay good money for 'unimproved' herb rich hay. Why not get a horse owner to buy the crop standing & they have the responsibility to get it harvested?no smilies
Treacodactyl

The land isn't fenced and as it's not been grazed for years we'd not want anything grazing it until we decide what to do.

We had thought about getting someone to cut and bale it, but access isn't great and as it's only a couple of acres I'm not sure many would want to do it. We will ask around but don't have the time to sort much out.

Hence the question, if the grass is left uncut what would happen next year. The grass and wild flowers on the open space in our woodland seem to cope with not being cut for years.no smilies
NorthernMonkeyGirl

Are there any scythe training people near you? Good field for a course?no smilies
Rob R

Suffer?

It would change. It would not be the same flowery meadow. What would it become?


Rushes, hair-grass, thistles, eventually woodland, but that's a while off yet.no smilies
Rob R

The land isn't fenced

They'd bring their own fencing.

Hence the question, if the grass is left uncut what would happen next year. The grass and wild flowers on the open space in our woodland seem to cope with not being cut for years.

Most wildflowers are not very competitive and rely upon low fertility to compete with the grasses, which is why they do better in haymeadows with limited grazing. It depends on the overall fertility how much of a difference it'll make but in our ings it needs to be cut or it leaves a carpet that gets stuck in the mower the following year and reduces the quality of the subsequent hay crop.no smilies
Slim

A flail mower would make quick work of it and not leave you with smothering pilesno smilies vegplot

Hey Slim! Where have you been? How are things?no smilies Treacodactyl

Most wildflowers are not very competitive and rely upon low fertility to compete with the grasses, which is why they do better in haymeadows with limited grazing. It depends on the overall fertility how much of a difference it'll make but in our ings it needs to be cut or it leaves a carpet that gets stuck in the mower the following year and reduces the quality of the subsequent hay crop.

The soil is very low in fertility so I'm not really worried about that. There also seems to almost be more wild flowers than grass, so again I wouldn't worry if the grasses got a bit of a boost.

The carpeting is what I'm more worried about, although I'm not sure what state the sward is currently in or how it's been treated in the past.

I don't have access to a flail mower or the means to use one. I may try mowing some with a lawn mower if time permits or scything and raking off if I can get a snath sorted.no smilies
Rob R

Most wildflowers are not very competitive and rely upon low fertility to compete with the grasses, which is why they do better in haymeadows with limited grazing. It depends on the overall fertility how much of a difference it'll make but in our ings it needs to be cut or it leaves a carpet that gets stuck in the mower the following year and reduces the quality of the subsequent hay crop.

The soil is very low in fertility so I'm not really worried about that. There also seems to almost be more wild flowers than grass, so again I wouldn't worry if the grasses got a bit of a boost.

The carpeting is what I'm more worried about, although I'm not sure what state the sward is currently in or how it's been treated in the past.

I don't have access to a flail mower or the means to use one. I may try mowing some with a lawn mower if time permits or scything and raking off if I can get a snath sorted.

In that case you're probably OK to leave it for a year. However, if it is a rich source there may be people willing to take the crop for reseeding new wildflower meadows. On that note it might be worth getting in touch with conservation groups & Natural England in the area to see if there's any interest.no smilies
Treacodactyl

On that note it might be worth getting in touch with conservation groups & Natural England in the area to see if there's any interest.

:laughing3:

Sorry, but I've had several poor experiences with the local conservation group. NE may be better than other government departments I've recently dealt with but my experiences with them has taught me to avoid.

We will try and identify what's growing, as it is something we're interested in, though and see what we can do to look after anything rare.no smilies
Rob R

Ignore any of the 'officials' aside from taking the contact details for the practical people. Things tend to be a lot easier when you take the unofficial route. :)no smilies Cathryn

Thank you for your answers by the way. I knew them already. I realise that at some point Treac wants to cut hay which might have influenced them but really I was hoping that there might be some thought in different directions.no smilies gil

Try contacting SABI (Scythe Assoc of Britain and ireland), see whether there are mowers in your area.

If you can get it cut and carted off, I would recommend. It probably will make it much harder to cut next year. (voice of bitter experience here; and I've also seen it in other 'wildflower meadows')no smilies
Rob R

Thank you for your answers by the way. I knew them already. I realise that at some point Treac wants to cut hay which might have influenced them but really I was hoping that there might be some thought in different directions.

It does sound like it would make a lovely building plot, or is that not what you meant? :)no smilies
Treacodactyl

Thank you for your answers by the way. I knew them already. I realise that at some point Treac wants to cut hay which might have influenced them but really I was hoping that there might be some thought in different directions.

It does sound like it would make a lovely building plot, or is that not what you meant? :)

No need, house is already there. As for Cathryn's question, long term it would go back to woodland. Bracken is encroaching from the woodland boundary and that can be kept in check by mowing a wide path. Brambles may also spread but roe deer will keep them in check. There's a few rabbits about but not enough to make much difference to the grass and no red deer that I know of. (Red deer seem to get ignored round these parts as grazing animals by those that want funding to look after grassland). I expect they're be a few tree seedlings appearing, probably down to the jays planting nuts and seeds, but I can pull those out/transplant them easily enough.no smilies
gregotyn

I have given my hay crop away for the last 10 years to a horse lady who wanted non fertilised grass to feed her little darlings and it has worked well for me. It is the only thing that happens to my grass, its annual cut! There are plenty of folks for whom an acre of grassland is all they need to feed their stock and prefer to know where it comes from. Before, when I had an acre paddock on which I fattened 6 lambs in winter, a local small dairy farmer was glad of that ground to make hay and give me 6 bales for my sheep's winter fodder. You just have to put it about locally and someone will turn up for your hay crop!no smilies Mutton

For hay cutting, two things folks will want to know

1. Any rocks sticking up or stones lying on the surface

2. Any lumps and bumps/lots of molehills.

Both of the above blunt, or even break, the blades on a mower.no smilies
Treacodactyl

Molehills yes, in a field in one corner. Stones, who knows as there's a covering of tall grass and wild flowers at the moment. :wink: What about giant puffballs, there's quite a few of them?no smilies dpack

stones are an issue even if scythingno smilies Nick

Puffballs, less so.no smilies Treacodactyl

Accidental pheasant Tsujigiri is a distinct possibility while scything, they seem to love the long grass at the moment.no smilies dpack

that is a mixed blessing,bad for birdie ,ideal for dinner :lol:no smilies Jam Lady

Can you burn it?

http://www.bellewood-gardens.com/2015/Garden%20at%20Federal%20Twist-%20Burning%20Grasses_2015-03.html

It is the preferred method for maintaining prairie / meadows here in the USA where the grassland is neither mowed nor grazed.no smilies
Nick

Stubble burning was outlawed years back. Suspect not, therefore.

Eta. Turns out burning is a legal option.no smilies
Treacodactyl

Swaling (controlled burning of grass, heather, gorse etc) is quite common round these parts although on rougher ground. I wouldn't fancy having a go myself as my meadows next to a fair bit of gorse and woodland. I'd also like to get hold of the organic matter rather than burn it.no smilies Ty Gwyn

Strangely by burning you also create organic matter.no smilies Mistress Rose

You do create a certain amount of charcoal and also release nutrients like potash.no smilies
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