Wildflower meadows are a particularly rare habitat within the modern landscape, as pressure on farmers to maximise yield and productivity, saw the introduction of herbicides and fertilisers, which resulted in wildflower meadows being lost. There is now an opportunity to re-instate wildflower meadows, working in collaboration with farmers and land managers. Operating at a landscape scale, we can identify areas best suited for conversion to wildflowers. In a lot of circumstances, these areas are less productive for conventional agriculture and there is an opportunity for landowners and farmers to diversify their income stream, with environmental schemes, or private funding opportunities (BNG, corporate funding to meet ESG requirements) by re-establishing wildflower meadows.
An important part of re-establishing wildflowers involves a Cut and Collect regime. Cut and collect works are generally completed in early spring or late summer/autumn, once wildflowers, Herbs and grasses have set and shed seed. The vegetation is then cut and removed to take away nutrients and organic matter. This helps to promote traditional wildflowers, grasses, and herbs, which cannot compete with more virile, nutrient hungry grasses.
When working on land that has been in arable rotation for a long period of time, we will generally introduce annual ryegrass mixes as an initial means to draw nutrients out the ground quickly before we introduce wildflowers. These are a very input heavy crop and will draw the excess nutrients out of the ground, we then look to cut and clear the grass 5-6 times in one growing season, never allowing it to seed. Once this has been completed, we can then soil sample, using our sister company FGS Organics, ensuring that conditions are better suited for introducing wildflower mixes.
What can we do?
Habitat Regeneration has invested heavily in equipment to assist with cut and collect projects, with an ability to work at all scales. We use our modern fleet of machines to undertake this work, which include:
- Cut & Collect Mowers
- Tractor mounted cut & collect machines
- 20T Forage Wagon
- Range of bailing equipment
- 3m Direct Moore Drill (Establishment post cut & collect works)
This broad range of equipment provides compact and large-scale options, depending on access, ecological constraints, and ground conditions.
Once cut and collect works have been completed and soil conditions are suitable, we can then look to direct drill into grass leys with wildflower mixes, utilising our new 3m Moore Drill, which ensures precision application.
We have recently completed a large project for a major renewable energy scheme, which adopted this exact approach. This required us to cut and collect nearly 800 acres of material. Using our larger scale equipment, enabled us to complete this work cost effectively and in a relatively short period of time, whilst delivering a positive outcome for nature.