The evidence is indubitable; spring has sprung. Here in the office we’ve been converting thoughts into action and fleshing out plans for this year’s grassland management with considerations being given to inputs, rotation, fencing, ditching and spring hedge trimming amongst other things.
All grasses in the UK share common characteristics in their growth patterns and barely grow at all when the temperature dips below 5°C. Conversely, it grows vigorously during warm and wet conditions, typical of the spring and early summer.
now is the time to
- Harrow your land to remove the dead thatch as soon as it is practicable to do so. This ensures maximum benefit of the harrows (leave it too late and there will be more fresh growth so the harrows cannot be used so aggressively and so less of the dead thatch will be removed). Let air and light into the base of the sward.
- Plan some aerating for as soon as the ground is hard enough – but not too hard. This gets vital oxygen into the soil and alleviates compaction.
- Identify which weeds need controlling and schedule in some spraying with some safe target-specific herbicides. Weed control is an on-going thing.
- Order the soil conditioners that are routinely applied ASAP to avoid prolonged delays in delivery and price rises.
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Good grassland management sits at the heart of healthy utilisation and production of grass and formal management of it here in the UK can be traced back to the Stone Age, as farmers toiled to convert grass into useful end products like meat and milk.
Whilst writing up my recommendations for a client in Dorset who shares my passion for sustainability, I was reminded of an article I read about recently unveiled plans to transform a dull strip of grassland into a vibrant ecology zone on Rossall seafront in Lancashire.
The draft plans include the sensitive construction of extensive pathways and viewing areas surrounded by swathes of flora and fauna. There will be a meandering water channel with a reed bed habitat which will teem with life in no time and there will also be a safe habitat created for lizards, a common inhabitant of the area. This biodiverse project is part of Wyre Council’s Five for Fleetwood scheme which is estimated to come in at around £1.5m and Balfour Beatty are hoping to start work on it at the end of 2015.
The strip of grassland from West Way to Fairway is already classed as a biological heritage site due to the rare plants that flourish there but with the new development, it will be redesigned to be a more attractive, vibrant feature and that allows people to get closer to nature.
Plans for the development were displayed recently at a local community centre and the public were invited to give their comments. A spokesperson from the council commented,
Feedback was very positive and the main feeling was it will be an improvement on what’s there now. People were also very helpful in giving their views on things like the inclusion of benches and shelters and what materials they should be made of. All these views will be incorporated into the next stage of designs.