Hay Meadow Restoration

Rhys_Evans

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Dolgellau
Hi all
I'm based in South Snowdonia (Rhyd-y-main near Dolgellau) and I'm looking to restore a 1ha field parcel into a hay meadow.
Some info on the field in question;

- It's been permanent pasture for 30 years+
- Received no nitrogen fertilizer or FYM for probably 30 years+
- Grazed all year with sheep for over 30 years+

I'm interested to know how other would go about it? Would you;
- Remove livestock next May and see what kind of crop/ plants establish?
- Plough and reseed with a hay meadow mixture?
- Use se a sub-soiler and seed?

Are there other considerations? Any advice would be greatly appreciated :)

Diolch
 

Sharpy

Member
Livestock Farmer
Hi all
I'm based in South Snowdonia (Rhyd-y-main near Dolgellau) and I'm looking to restore a 1ha field parcel into a hay meadow.
Some info on the field in question;

- It's been permanent pasture for 30 years+
- Received no nitrogen fertilizer or FYM for probably 30 years+
- Grazed all year with sheep for over 30 years+

I'm interested to know how other would go about it? Would you;
- Remove livestock next May and see what kind of crop/ plants establish?
- Plough and reseed with a hay meadow mixture?
- Use se a sub-soiler and seed?

Are there other considerations? Any advice would be greatly appreciated :)

Diolch
Remove livestock late April, cut at end of July, try to make hay ie Ted out a couple of times to thrash the seed off, allow cattle to graze aftermath.
Repeat for as long as it takes.
 

Rhys_Evans

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Dolgellau
Remove livestock late April, cut at end of July, try to make hay ie Ted out a couple of times to thrash the seed off, allow cattle to graze aftermath.
Repeat for as long as it takes.
Thanks (y)
Have you taken this approach yourself? If so, how long did it take for hay meadow to reach it's full potential so to speak i.e. a decent crop coupled with nice floristic diversity?
 

Sharpy

Member
Livestock Farmer
Thanks (y)
Have you taken this approach yourself? If so, how long did it take for hay meadow to reach it's full potential so to speak i.e. a decent crop coupled with nice floristic diversity?
No, I haven't. But you have to create conditions to allow any seeds in the soil to germinate, or more likely the tiny overgrazed weeds time to grow and turn into wildflowers. Hence later cutting and grazing with cattle.
 

GeorgeK

Member
Location
Leicestershire
The main determinant of what will grow is soil type, drainage, fertility and indexes. Try to go against this and it will be a never ending battle of spraying and reseeds you will never win because the plants best suited to the conditions will always prevail in the end. Ph and P + K can be tested and modified to some extent as can drainage to suit the plants you wish to grow. The fundamental soil characteristics such as light/heavy, free/slow draining cannot be changed and will largely determine the flowers that will grow naturally. Light, free draining, less fertile ground tends to suit wild flowers best. On stronger land wild flowers will struggle to compete with the meadow grass, clover, buttercups etc.
It's not as simple as planting some flower meadow mix and shutting the gate. You need to get to know your land and work with it and carefully manage it if you are to succeed.
 
Last edited:

N.Yorks.

Member
If you know other hay meadows in the area that have the species you are looking for take some of their hay and spread it on your land. As above: the hay meadow species you want won't do well in high nutrient soils, but it sounds like that might not be a problem as you've not fertilised for many years.
 

TeleriEryri

New Member
We're new to our farm but it's amazing what two years of a long rest and late graze brings up! Less hassle than trying to gather hay as well. Just grazed it off in autumn/winter. Looks like a brown prairie late summer and can feel a bit embarrassing ha! But the sheep and cattle soon graze it down.
 

Danllan

Member
Location
Sir Gar / Carms
Just 4 years here of removing stock and making hay every year brought the orchids back.
Same on a couple of small fields of ours; lots of stuff just waiting for the chance to come back.

Also on a couple that had been left by a predecessor to go to scrub. These are too small and steep for haymaking, but I cleared the bramble and most of the small trees off them, got rid of as much bracken as possible and put some sheep in to tidy up around the edges a bit, less than two years later we have orchids, lesser celandines, meadowsweet and a dozen other wildflowers who had been biding their time.

The sheep will go on them in the late Autumn and Winter, and yearling cattle in late Summer, that way the early and late seeders will get a chance. All beautiful, and astonishing how loud the insect life is on a warm day.
 

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