27 August 2013
Obviously we need to cut the hay to maintain the wildflower diversity of the meadows on which the insects in part depend, but we can reduce the impact by leaving uncut refuges for insects, particularly pollinators like bees.
On each of the hay meadows, we leave an uncut refuge strip of about 5-10m wide. Aftermath grazing by the sheep helps trim these uncut areas up later in the year, but we also vary the location of the strip each year to prevent scrub invading the blackthorn is particularly quick to silently creep into the meadow
when the cutter or sheep have turned their back!
The refuge strips also provide a graded and gentle edge to the meadow, which adds structural diversity and increases the range of habitat niches.
Hopefully many species benefit from these strips, though I think the field vole may question their value when the barn owl hovers overhead finding the strips very convenient quartering!
Posted by Susan Stone