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Experimental topping of the rank areas of our Sherborne grasslands

May 9th 2024: very belatedly as we have been held up so much by the wet weather, we cut the rank grass areas on the Sherborne Terraces and the Quarr Local Nature Reserve today and removed the biomass, hoping that this will enable the finer grasses and different species of wildflowers to thrive rather than being smothered by the rich growth of grasses. We hope the weather will be suitable during the summer for us to take a haycut off these areas – this process will further reduce the nutrient level in the soil thereby making the areas even more flowery.

We are very grateful to our contractor Roy Attfield for his patience and skill today! https://www.dorset-smallholdings-agricultrual-contractor.co.uk

Getting ready to start:

the grass sward was dense and at least 6″ long

the mowings had to be regularly tipped onto the dump pile

after we had finished, the area looked quite different – now we must wait and see what happens!

It is being suggested that as a result of the changes in our climate, wildflower meadows should be cut in the spring

– probably best in March if conditions permit –

as well as in the early autumn to mimic the grazing of the ‘aftermath’ by cattle or ponies.¬†

The field we look after in Hazelbury Bryan  has recently been grazed by two of our ponies Vanity and Blackberry. Every year this field gets more flowery and the rank grass area smaller and less dense.

The yellow rattle seedlings are very dense this year

towards the end of the ponies’ stay in this field, they had seriously reduced the area of long grass

as well as eating the sweeter short grass areas to almost nothing!