EM4 – Meadow Mixture for Clay Soils
EM4 is composed of species that are adapted to growing on soils with a high clay content. Clay soils are generally mildly acid to neutral, prone to waterlogging, sticky and heavy when wet, and hard to crumble when dry.
|40||16||4||Order this mixture|
Endeavour to select ground that is not highly fertile and does not have a problem with perennial weeds. Good preparation is essential to success so aim to control weeds and produce a good quality seed bed before sowing.
To prepare a seed bed first remove weeds using repeated cultivation or a herbicide. Then plough or dig to bury the surface vegetation, harrow or rake to produce a medium tilth, and roll, or tread, to produce a firm surface.
Preparing a seed bed on clay can be difficult, particularly on raw clay sub-soils low in organic matter. Clay soils are also prone to compaction and poor drainage. Well timed preparation and sowings are therefore important to successful establishment. As clay is unworkable when very wet or very dry, autumn sowings may not be possible. It is sometimes better to dig or plough the soil in the autumn, allow winter frosts to break down the clods, and prepare a seedbed in the spring.
Seed is best sown in the autumn or spring but can be sown at other times of the year if there is sufficient warmth and moisture. The seed must be surface sown and can be applied by machine or broadcast by hand. To get an even distribution and avoid running out divide the seed into two or more parts and sow in overlapping sections. Do not incorporate or cover the seed, but firm in with a roll, or by treading, to give good soil/seed contact. (more on sowing)
First year management
Most of the sown meadow species are perennial and will be slow to germinate and grow and will not usually flower in the first growing season. There will often be a flush of annual weeds from the soil in the first growing season. This weed growth is easily controlled by topping or mowing.
Avoid cutting in the spring and early summer if the mixture is autumn sown and contains Yellow Rattle, or if the mixture has been sown with a nurse of cornfield annuals. These sown annuals should be allowed to flower, then in mid-summer cut and remove the vegetation. It is important to cut back the annuals before they die back, set seed and collapse: this cut will reveal the developing meadow mixture and give it the space it needs to develop.
Management once established
In the second and subsequent years EM4 sowings can be managed in a number of ways which, in association with soil fertility, will determine the character of the grassland. The best results are usually obtained by traditional meadow management based around a main summer hay cut in combination with autumn and possibly spring mowing or grazing.
Meadow grassland is not cut or grazed from spring through to late July/August to give the sown species an opportunity to flower. After flowering in July or August take a 'hay cut': cut back with a scythe, petrol strimmer or tractor mower to c50mm. Leave the 'hay' to dry and shed seed for 1-7 days then remove from site.
Mow or graze the re-growth through to late autumn/winter to c 50mm and again in spring if needed.
EM4 is a complete mix composed of 20% native wild flowers and 80% slow growing grasses (by weight). The flower and grass components are also available to order separately as EM4F for the flower component and EG4 for the grass component.