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Tue 1st May 2018
May Day
By Dr Katherine Wotherspoon
Blog Tags: News, Research
We have done the first cut and collect of the year today in the hope of reducing dominance of coarse grasses and increasing cover of yellow rattle and wildflowers. What will the results be?

Today is May Day- significant for many as it is an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival and a traditional spring holiday in many cultures. The sun is shining, and for us at Three Hagges Woodmeadow it marks our first hay cut of the year (more by accident than design with regards to the date) in the hope to reduce the dominance of coarse grasses and to encourage growth of low growing forbs and the all important yellow rattle.

In learning about meadow creation and management, it has come to light that the best way to reduce nutrients in the soil which favour the growth of grasses, is to cut, cut and cut again. So this year we decided an ‘early cut’ as well as a summer hay cut, and an early autumn cut was the best chance we had to remove the nutrient load and encourage wildflowers.

Over the last few weeks we have been watching the growth of yellow rattle (a known hemiparasite, gaining some of its nutrients from grasses and supressing their growth), to ensure we cut at the right time; before yellow rattle gets too tall but after the grass has grown significantly enough to justify a cut. The wet weather has complicated things slightly in that before this week, it was unlikely a tractor would be able to access the site. However, everything has come together and we are excited to see the results of the cut in the next few weeks. Watch this space…