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Wild Flower Fellowship

Brush Harvesting a wonderful Welsh meadow

Published by lucy grove on Fri 26 August 2016
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I’ve been lucky in that my fellowship started just in time for me to help with Emorsgate’s last Brush Harvesting trip of the season. Brush harvesting is a technique whereby wild flower and grass seed is collected by towing a harvester across a meadow, seed being swept through thick brushes and then collected into a hopper. Emorsgate invented this technique (after much imaginative thinking and design development) and it has been used across a wide range of harvesting schemes.

Our destination for this harvesting event was a number of meadows nestled in the hills near Llwynywermod, Wales. The main meadow to be harvested was a wonderful example of a lowland, unimproved Welsh meadow. At our time of visiting it was full of species I rarely get to see, such as Great burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis), Sneezewort (Achillea ptarmica) and Whorled Caraway (Carum verticillatum).

Great Burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis) looking wonderful in the afternoon sun
Great Burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis) looking wonderful in the afternoon sun

Upon arriving at the site, Donald walks over the meadows, assessing and noting the species present and stages of seed development. This surveying also allows us to identify any particular species of interest that could be hand harvested before being ‘brushed’ - in this instance it was my job to hand pick the seed stalks of the heath spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata).

 
Donald surveying the meadow before harvesting
Donald surveying the meadow before harvesting

I started off a little wary of the new machinery and my ability to undertake tasks competently, however by the end of the day (with Donald’s kind guidance and patience) I was confidently attaching the harvester, unloading the hopper, bagging up the seed and loading the trailer among other tasks. I’ve always thought the best way to learn was to just get stuck in, and today was the perfect example.

It was a long, busy day but most definitely reaffirmed my love of a hard days work in our wonderful countryside. We retuned back to our farm gone 11pm, unloaded the seed, and then I went straight to bed.

Some of todays harvest bagged up
Some of todays harvest bagged up

What happens to the harvested seed?

The landowner requested that, after processing, they could acquire a proportion of the harvested seed back for their own sowing. The majority of the seed will however be processed by Emorsgate ready for sale, adding a wonderful Welsh meadow mixture to their wide seed range.

Harvested seed now ready for processing
Harvested seed now ready for processing