Ptyxis Ecology - Our Botany Blog

Sunday, 10 June 2007

More meadows

Another week of hay meadow surveys - covered about 40 this week. Not as exciting as last week but I did find a new site for Equisetum pratense in Teesdale.

The vast majority of the interesting habitat in these meadows is in uncut sections of the meadows on steep banks or in very wet areas. These areas also presumably escape from the fertiliser spreading.

The main cut section of the fields on the same farm as the Equisetum pratense bank were a sea of soft brome. The fields were species-poor and had about 95% cover of soft brome, yet these fields have been recieving £250/ha (from the taxpayer) under the Pennine Dales ESA (agri-environment) scheme for several years for maintaining them as they are.

an expensive sea of brome!

The project I work on is about restoring upland hay meadows and I survey lots of meadows in order to select which have most potential for restoration or as seed sources. Then I coordinate harvesting seed in 'green hay' from the species-rich fields and transferring this hay to nearby fields that have been prepared and are ready for restoration. We do this in 2 stages. In the first stage we introduce yellow rattle and red clover in order to encourage a change in the soil conditions to make it more suitable for other species to get established. The second stage is to introduce a very species-rich mixture after yellow rattle and red clover are already well established.

Last week I visited several of the fields we worked on last year. The results after 1 year were variable. On the most sucessful field the yellow rattle was abundant but occured in very obvious strips showing where the spreading machine had been. This looked a bit odd but I guess it will soon spread out from the strips.

On monday I revisited one of the best fields I found last year near Wolsingham in Weardale. This was very herb rich throughout the field and had abundant great burnet. Floristically it matches MG4 almost exactly but the habitat is very different to the typical MG4 alluvial flood meadows. So it is probably MG3 but with a few species missing!




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