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A solution to hay-making on small areas of conservation grassland?



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EuCAN helps to look after the flower-rich grassland on the Terrace Meadows SNCI for the Sherborne Town Council and every year we cut the grass at the end of the summer and pile it up under the trees. This removes the biomass and helps to keep the fertility of the soil down to encourage the fine grass species and the wildflowers to flourish, but it does seem a terrible waste of a potentially useful resource. This year we were asked to start to improve another area (around 1/3 hectare) where we knew there had been no dog walkers (therefore no dogs or dog muck to pollute the hay) so we borrowed a mini-baler from the National Trust and Natural England and used it to bale up 50 bales of very dry and reasonable quality hay which will be fed to the Butterfly Conservation grazing ponies in the winter if we need it.

It was a slow process and we learnt a lot from the experience but it is defintely something that we would like to pursue further especially considering the increase in the number of small privately owned nature reserves given over to wildflowers.