We had a great day on Tuesday discussing the management of diverse swards and herbal leys, with Becky Swinn from Innovative Farmers, Dr Lisa Norton from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and kindly hosted by Richard and Alison Park at Low Sizergh Farm. Key themes and learning points in the discussion:
- Rotational grazing, allowing the plant to recover after a few days of grazing work best to maintain as many plants as possible in the herbal ley mixture, but they won’t all survive, depending on the field and management.
- Look closely at the swards throughout the year and record grazing times and conditions and management/ inputs to help build a picture of what’s going on to learn about the situation in each field and which kinds of wild ‘herbs’ will thrive.
- The mycorrhizal bacteria and fungi balance of the soil will suit some plants over others, most farm soils will have a higher bacteria content which favours grasses. There was a brief discussion on how to get more fungi in our soils- woodchip ,compost ,slurry treatments.
- For grazing don't put too much area down to herbal leys at once so they can be managed carefully in the first couple of years (no grazing in wet conditions).