Ongoing management

The first year after sowing:

  • the most obvious plant growth in new grassland at Abbey Farm is annual plants like poppies, Mayweed, Charlock and Fumitory
  • underneath these are seedlings of the plants included in the seed mix, most of which are perennials
  • in this year we balance two aims:
    • keeping plant cover low enough so that small seedlings are not crowded out
    • removing the year’s plant growth so that nutrients continue to be taken from the grassland site
  • The low fertility of the soils at Flitcham means that first-year growth is often sparse, so it can be left without mowing during the first summer. We then mow and remove the cuttings during September
  • we do not use any pesticides or herbicides on the grasslands. The high diversity of the seed mix means spraying a herbicide would also kill plants that we have sown

Years 2-4

  • in the second year biennial plants in the seed mix often show well, such as Wild Parsnip and Viper’s Bugloss
  • each year progressively more perennial plants flower
  • again two management aims have to be balanced:
    • remove the plant growth each year
    • allowing any flowering seed mix plants to produce viable seed
  • We try to meet both these aims by mowing and removing the cuttings in late September

Subsequent years

  • from the fourth year onwards we may start grazing with livestock (we use sheep), though it depends on the condition of the sward
  • autumn mowing and removal remains an option
  • failure to remove each year’s growth may encourage common, rank vegetation species like False Oat-grass
Young kidney vetch plant
Kidney Vetch plant in first year after sowing
Red Fescue one year after drilling
Red Fescue one year after drilling
Ploughman's Spikenard one year after sowing
Ploughman’s Spikenard one year after sowing
Future grassland site in first summer after sowing
Future grassland site in first summer after sowing
Grassland during second summer
Grassland during second summer showing flowering Wild Parsnip
Hoary Mullein in 2-3 year-old grassland
Hoary Mullein in 2-3 year-old grassland
Oxeye daisy in young grassland
Ox-eye Daisy in grassland about 4 years after sowing
Unmown grassland with tall oatgrass
Unmown grassland with False Oat-grass