In the summer of 2018, we experimented with two seed spreading exercises to increase the number of wildlflower species on the farm. Scroll down to find out how we got on.
About Our Meadows
In 2017, the Shropshire Wildlife Trust kindly undertook a survey of our farm and documented the plant species found. It was recommended that we manage two of our fields as hay meadows. We sought advice on how best to do this and how to increase the number of wildflower species.
We conducted two seed spreading experiments to increase the wildflowers present. Firstly, we harvested yellow rattle seed by hand from one of our fields and spread it by hand in another field after harrowing the ground.
Secondly, we bought 11kg of wildflower seed mix from Forestart and spread it with a seed spreader after harrowing.
Experiment 1: Seed collecting & spreading by hand
In July 2018, once the field had been cut for hay, we collected several bags of yellow rattle seed. At the time, we weren’t aware of the need to spread hay directly onto the recipient site, so we decided to dry out the seeds and spread them in September 2018.
Before spreading the yellow rattle seed, we harrowed the area to break up the soil and bring it to the surface in order to give the seed a better chance of establishing itself. We added it to some rice to help it spread more easily and with our GPS device, marked on our farm map where we had scattered the seed. This made it much easier to go back the following spring and see if any had taken.
Drying out the yellow rattle seeds
Spreading the yellow rattle seeds
Experiment 2: Buying seed and spreading with a machine
- Yellow Rattle
- Meadow Buttercup
- Lesser Knapweed
- Ragged Robin
- Ribwort Plantain
- Field Scabious
- Snakeshead Fritillary
- Gtr Knapweed
- Purple Loosestrife
- Wild Basil
- Crested Dogs Tail
- Sheep’s Fescue
To increase the number of wildflower species on the farm, we decided to buy 11kg of wildflower seed mix from local supplier Forestart. We have listed the species contained in the mix on the left-hand side.
We followed a similar process to our first experiment by harrowing the land and then spreading the seed. Instead of doing this by hand, we used an automatic spreader that fixed onto a quad bike. It certainly helped us to spread a lot more seed more quickly and evenly.
We hope one day to have a meadow like this!
Our findings and what we plan to do next
The yellow rattle seed took well in Experiment 1 and we found lots growing in spring 2019. Similarly in Experiment 2, the yellow rattle seed is present where we spread it. Unfortunately we have not yet found any of the other species from the Forestart mix but we are reassured that some wildflowers will take longer to come through.
We are now members of the Marches Meadow Group and have put our names on the list for a survey to be undertaken at Pollardine in the spring of 2020. In August 2019 we also kindly received some green hay from Natural England.
We look forward to seeing what will be found in the fields we’re managing as meadows and to connecting with others in the area who are running similar projects.
Other projects at Pollardine
We have been awarded funding from the Shropshire Hills AONB and The Woodland Trust to plant an additional 40 metres of hedgerow on the farm to connect existing corridors.
With support from the Woodland Grant Scheme, we are going to plant approximately eight hectares of woodland next spring. This equates to roughly 12,800 trees.
Venue for hire
In 2018 we built a timber building inside one of our old farm sheds. With a spacious meeting area, a kitchen, two toilets, disabled access and a stunning view, it’s the perfect location for a day away from the office.