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the village idiot

An Idiot's guide to Ancient Woodland management

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46 minutes ago, MrNick said:

A windrow of mowings could be baled and taken away or stacked and left to decompose (after removing band or net wrap)

That's an interesting thought. Small balers don't look like they cost too much money. I wonder if they would cope in a woodland setting?

 

I can just imagine the local farmer's face if I pointed his £200,000 baling set up into the Woods!

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Just wondering if there's any conservation groups who might be able to advise/help. If the mowings are rich in wild flower seed there could be a demand for 'green hay' to help establish wild flowers in freshly planted woodlands.

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31 minutes ago, Paul in the woods said:

Just wondering if there's any conservation groups who might be able to advise/help. If the mowings are rich in wild flower seed there could be a demand for 'green hay' to help establish wild flowers in freshly planted woodlands.

Is there any reason wildflower and herb rich hay can't be fed to animals? Excepting ragwort .

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33 minutes ago, Paul in the woods said:

Just wondering if there's any conservation groups who might be able to advise/help. If the mowings are rich in wild flower seed there could be a demand for 'green hay' to help establish wild flowers in freshly planted woodlands.

Another interesting thought.

 

There will be some nettle and thistle seed mixed up in it all which some people like to avoid, but I'll certainly make some enquiries.

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7 minutes ago, openspaceman said:

Is there any reason wildflower and herb rich hay can't be fed to animals? Excepting ragwort .

I have no idea as I don't keep animals. Perhaps the risk of woody material from the woodland setting would be too risky to sell the hay?

 

I knew about collecting freshly cut wild flower hay and spreading on other pasture to seed the wild flowers and then I listened in to a bumble bee zoom talk and again they were mentioning this. (An interesting fact I learnt is some bumble bees nest in clumps of grass so worth keeping some long standing rough clumps).

 

As an owner of a few acres of woodland planted on an old field one thing that strikes me is how long it's taken for woodland wild flowers to move in. In over 30 years the grass is still the dominant ground cover.

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2 hours ago, the village idiot said:

That's an interesting thought. Small balers don't look like they cost too much money. I wonder if they would cope in a woodland setting?

 

I can just imagine the local farmer's face if I pointed his £200,000 baling set up into the Woods!

You could probably get an old, tired round baler and do a decent job. You don't 'need' to put net or string on, as long as it flops out the back without leaving anything to stop the rear door closing if you wanted to then burn or compost the bales. I had a job baling linseed for burning once, the customer didn't want net so left rough piles all over the field. Did the job for him so he was happy. I used to run a krone baler with chains and slats, it could cope with anything you shoved in the front of it unlike the balers with belts.

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15 minutes ago, Toad said:

You could probably get an old, tired round baler and do a decent job. You don't 'need' to put net or string on, as long as it flops out the back without leaving anything to stop the rear door closing if you wanted to then burn or compost the bales. I had a job baling linseed for burning once, the customer didn't want net so left rough piles all over the field. Did the job for him so he was happy. I used to run a krone baler with chains and slats, it could cope with anything you shoved in the front of it unlike the balers with belts.

Do the bales hold together enough without string or net to be able to collect up afterwards? If not I'd be as well off with a mower/collector and not have any windrowing to do.

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13 minutes ago, the village idiot said:

Do the bales hold together enough without string or net to be able to collect up afterwards? If not I'd be as well off with a mower/collector and not have any windrowing to do.

They hold together well enough to grab up and chuck into a tipping trailer. You might lose a few chunks or bits, but being super neat isn't the aim of the game I guess? If you did want to put string or net on you could probably fiddle around to find the minimum amount to hold them together to get the shifted and minimise the amount you use.

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2 hours ago, Paul in the woods said:

As an owner of a few acres of woodland planted on an old field one thing that strikes me is how long it's taken for woodland wild flowers to move in. In over 30 years the grass is still the dominant ground cover.

Grasses are competitive  in high nutrient status soils and especially  so when other plants are drought stressed. Removing a late hay crop  takes off lots of surface minerals. Also overgrazing  has this effect which is why horse pastures become dominated by buttercups. So removing a grass crop as hay after flowering plants have seeded is a way of encouraging the flowering plants that  require less fertile soils to compete.

 

Also in a woodland setting the deeper rooting trees and the mcorrhizas associated with them mobilise nutrients from the mineral soil and deposit them onto the surface as leaf fall, so carrying off minerals with a regular cropping cycle, like hazel coppice on clay soils,  limits the build up of surface nutrients and flowering plants like bluebells and anenomes take advantage of the temporay lighter conditions and thrive. Clay soils hold on to nutrients well and have  reserves  which don't deplete much over time.

 

On lighter soils, like the Bagshot sands here, the minerals, once mobilised get leached away following cultivation and over grazing and plants associated with acid heath become dominant for a while. Eventually if this false climax isn't maintained, by grazing,  woody species creep in and reach down to deeper strata, gradually re fertilising the surface layers till secondary woodlands develops.

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