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Author Topic: Grazing for wildflowers..  (Read 678 times)
charlieb
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« on: August 07, 2017, 02:47:12 PM »

Not renewables related but you never know what expertise is out there.  We have 20Ha of variously decent and very rough permanent pasture grazing. We're currently letting this to neighbours for a summer-only lease.  (Apr-Sept or thereabouts.)  Sheep only on the good bit.  Cows and sheep on the rougher stuff.   I've shied away from winter-grazing for fear of poaching the ground disastroulsy, but I've recently started wondering if winter grazing - and summer non-grazing - might lead to more wildflowers and general biodiversity.    Has anyone got experience or views on whether this is true or not?

(We're unlikely to make much money out of either, as keeping the fences in order often costs more than the rent. I'm also looking at getting my own stock but I want to take things slowly)
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stannn
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« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2017, 03:02:07 PM »

https://www.floralocale.org/dl377
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charlieb
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« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2017, 03:21:52 PM »

Thank you Stann. Short answer: there is no short answer.  But keeping a small herd of small-breed cattle looks increasingly appealing. (Trying to enforce much subtlety in a grazing agreement is not going to happen.)
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stannn
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« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2017, 03:30:17 PM »

We do have a bull and 10 Friesian heifers graze our patch during part of the summer. They have to go home early October because of the poaching effect on wet ground, especially by Mr Bull.
Stan
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A.L.
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« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2017, 04:58:44 PM »

hello,

- I am sure martin would have pointed you to 'A farm for the Future' https://vimeo.com/136857929 year round grazing in England, about 20 mins in. refers to Fordhall farm https://www.fordhallfarm.com/
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dhaslam
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« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2017, 12:11:08 AM »

In order to have  wild flowers you need to have under fertilized ground and usually poor soil as well.   I have some poppies this year where the ground was dug up for the GSHP pipes but generally there is very little.  I was grazing the ground in winter with horses but not for a few years.
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DonL
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« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2017, 07:22:28 AM »

Decrease fertility by taking a hay crop every year, which also allows the flower seeds to be released. Strew hay from a flower rich meadow on it. Pick up droppings after the livestock  Wink  It takes a long time to get it back to a traditional wild flower meadow.
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biff
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« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2017, 08:09:11 AM »

This is an excellent thread.
                     Very much relevant to my own lawn efforts. It is necessary to cut it each year or else the rushes can party and get a solid grip. I consider, perhaps,wrongly that my only enemy is the docken and make sure to pull the seed stalks by hand as soon as they show some progress. The first few season,s cuts are at 160mm and then we have a carpet of buttercup, dandilion,daisy  and the different small root plants like sundew. To describe it as a lawn is really stretching the imagination, so "Meadows" would be nearer the mark but then meadows imply acres not sq meters.
There is great info on Stann,s Floraoscale link and of course Martin,s. Martin was also very anti-plough. I leave oasis of nettles for the corncrake and this year it paid off with the arrival of our first corncrake down near our pv array. Sadly,,well I never found the feathers, yet Mr Corncrake is not known for his massive IQ and walking about our rear lawn making a noise like a creaking barn door must have generated tons of interest from our feral cats. When I was a nipper, the corncrake used to annoy the hell out of us. In the still of the summer evenings,while whispering over our illegal woodbines, these annoying creatures would prevent you hearing yourself thinking. Now their absence is lamented. Our,s did break into song for a week but he was competing against our cuckoo and Mrs Biff more than once glowered across the room at me,exasperated " Someone should shoot that Blxxdy Cuckoo"..She is a saint of a woman and yet this Cuckoo was driving her to distraction while she was delving deep into a knitting pattern. Then the Corncrake arrived.. My shed called to me and as I quietly slithered away ,down past the fruit trees to the shed, I knew the two residents on the rear lawn were making the best of the good weather, Sometimes being deaf can lead to peace of mind,,well not always,,sorry not for long.
If there are some birds here who make the best of my efforts, it has to be the blackbirds or even the thrushes. They gallop about in and out, round the fruit trees and seem to be smart enough to dodge the cats.So there are some who achieve contentment from my struggles,..
                                                                                         Biff
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charlieb
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« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2017, 09:38:30 AM »

Thanks all. I agree an excellent thread! Any that bring Martin back into the discussion has to be.        I'm not actually trying to create a meadow - apart from anything else cutting hay would be impossible on most of the ground.  Just a grass swathe that has more in it, particularly pretty flowers.  The logic being that if the ground doesn't bring in lots of cash it should at least look as nice as possible.   It seems like there are plenty of options..
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todthedog
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« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2017, 11:59:43 AM »

I learnt today that the female Cuckoo can land lay her egg and be gone in less than 10 seconds.
Evidently their  numbers are in drastic decline so 'enjoy' while you can.

Anyone hear farming today where there was an advocate of antiplough and how much a change in practice had all but eliminated runoff and soil erosion.
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AndrewE
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« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2017, 06:55:42 PM »

I missed that article but will seek it out (Quick before the i-player runs out!)

I'm not yet convinced by the zero- or minimum-tillage brigade.  From what I have seen and heard so far it seems to depend on using herbicide to kill off all surface growth, then going through the solid soil with a powerful tractor and a seed-drill.  I seem to remember reading that glyphosate causes the loss of lots of soil organisms.  And I don't see how not breaking up the soil surface will decrease run-off, I would have expected the opposite...
Now if it was coupled with heavy mulching every year (and an unusually dense earthworm population to drill a dense network of holes in the soil for them) it might be more believable...
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biff
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« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2017, 09:44:53 AM »

I would not be a fan of the cuckoo,
                             There is something quite pathetic about a small song bird losing her family to a parasite that is 3 times her size as she is trying to teach it to fly. We have witnessed mother thrush patiently pushing her large fat fake offspring to the end of a pine branch, trying to encourage it to fly. I would imagine that she was exhausted running back and forth trying to feed this glutton but that is nature. It is not all sweetness and light.
                                             Biff
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charlieb
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« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2017, 04:41:10 PM »

I missed that article but will seek it out (Quick before the i-player runs out!)

I'm not yet convinced by the zero- or minimum-tillage brigade.  From what I have seen and heard so far it seems to depend on using herbicide to kill off all surface growth, then going through the solid soil with a powerful tractor and a seed-drill.  I seem to remember reading that glyphosate causes the loss of lots of soil organisms.  And I don't see how not breaking up the soil surface will decrease run-off, I would have expected the opposite...
Now if it was coupled with heavy mulching every year (and an unusually dense earthworm population to drill a dense network of holes in the soil for them) it might be more believable...
Very interesting.  The contract farmers we use for the small amount of arable we have are pushing min-till hard (though I'm sure not particularly for enviro reasons)  and I have exactly the same concerns.  Seems like it boils down to lesser of evils: Glyphosate or Heavy Ploughing. I can't really tell: some people say glyphosate is harmless, others that it's the devil's sperm. 

Certainly farming organic without tilling would seem virtually impossible, as there'd be no way to get rid of the weeds each year..
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