2009: A Record year for restoring wildflowers to farmland

2009 has in all respects been a record year for re-introducing wildflowers to farmland and the to the English countryside. This has mainly been possible with funding from Natural England's Higher level stewardship (HLS) schemes.

Emorsgate are pleased to have been able to send out more seed of the widest diversity and highest quality to enhance more acres of our green and pleasant land than ever before.

Creating new flower rich grassland

Significant areas of new flower rich grassland have also been established within HLS schemes using Emorsgate seed mixtures. A good established example of this type of project is the 13.5 hectare (33 acres) of wildflower meadow created next to the Nene Way and River Nene at Upper Heyford in a partnership between the River Nene Regional Park and the local farmer. The meadow was sown in April 2008 and by 2009 had "a range of wildflowers and grasses in flower for the first time in 40 years"

Enhancing biodiversity in existing grassland

Amongst the most significant schemes have been enhancement projects to add flowering plant diversity to grassland created under earlier schemes by sowing wild flower seed into existing grass. A large proportion of the grassland established in earlier schemes used only the most basic permitted seed mixture to keep farm costs to a minimum. The result is acres of new grassland but with only limited biodiversity and wildlife benefit. Current HLS schemes aim much higher and are focused on delivering quality outcomes in terms of biodiversity. A variety of specialised wild flower seed mixtures have been sown each chosen to reflect local soils and site conditions. Whilst some of these quality seed mixtures can seem quite expensive per kilo a little seed can go a long way and can deliver lasting enhancements over large areas of grassland.

Local origin

Priority schemes have been able to take advantage of the traceability of origin of Emorsgate seed stocks to devise special mixtures of local or regional origin for sowing on particularly sensitive sites. These options have been of particular value where local seed harvesting initiatives or green hay options have not been able to fulfil scheme requirements.

Together these schemes have the potential to but back significant and lasting improvements to the biodiversity and quality of farmland in the British countryside.

Posted on 15 September 2009,
Category: News