Halford Flood Meadow Diary

September 2023

10 Sep 2023

Aftermath Grazing.

Aftermath grazing basically means putting animals on the meadow after the hay cut. In traditional meadows this is normally done with horses or cattle as they are selective grazers and will leave areas that are unpalatable, providing a habitat for other insects or invertebrates to live. Sheep can be used but they will nibble most plants down so the result is a less diverse landscape. The nutrients in the dung of the grazing animals is used to balance the fertility of the soil to suit the species in the meadow - this year we are taking the dung off the field to supress the grass and give wildflower seeds a chance to grow. The hooves of the animals also press the seed that has been dispersed through the haymaking process into the ground, providing good contact with the soil without burying the seed and blocking out the much needed light.

Fencing in horses is a problem on the meadow as temporary horse fences need to be installed and then removed if there is a threat of a flood - otherwise the fence will get washed away. The meadow and surrounding low lying land at Halford is liable to flooding at any time of year. A close watch on the weather forecast and river levels is essential to make sure we have time to decamp the horses and fencing if there is going to be a flood. You can't beat nature, but you can work with it!

by Mike Hopkins