Yorkshire Dales hay time

Seed harvesting at Arkengarth
County: North Yorkshire
Nearest town or settlement: Yorkshire Dales National Park
Contact details
Organisation: Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust
Email: info@ydmt.org
Tel: 01524 251002
Website: Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust
Project description

Hay Time was set up in 2006 by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, and has been successfully working with farmers to restore upland and lowland meadows in and around the Yorkshire Dales. By autumn 2010, almost 170ha of degraded receptor meadow have had seed sustainably harvested from nearby donor meadows spread on them and their management improved. Most schemes have been funded through receptor farmers; agri-environment agreements. We use our own machinery and a specially-trained local contractor to harvest and spread seed. A range of techniques are used, including green hay, hay concentrate, leaf vacuum, and hand collecting. All methods have their pros and cons but having a range of equipment at our disposal enables the best method to be used for each individual scheme, taking into account several factors such as the existing flora and soil fertility of the receptor site, the distance between donor and receptor sites, access and slope of the meadows, the farmers’ requirements, and the weather.

Monitoring of receptor meadows has shown yellow rattle quickly becomes established over a large area of each receptor where it was previously absent or at low density. Additional species that have been re-introduced are wood crane’s-bill, eyebright, lady’s mantle, autumn hawkbit, selfheal, common knapweed, ribwort plantain, pignut, sweet vernal grass and crested dog’s-tail.

Education and awareness-raising is a key part of the project. YDMT co-ordinates the Flowers of the Dales Festival, an annual, six-month programme of over 120 events and activities run by YDMT and a wide range of partner organisations to enable people to discover, celebrate and help protect hay meadows and other wildflower habitats in the Yorkshire Dales. Over 4,500 people have taking part in events and activities provided as part of the two Festivals run to date.

YDMT has published Hay Time in the Yorkshire Dales, a 270pp book that describes the natural and cultural history of meadows in the area and their traditional management. One of the chapters describes Hay Time’s practical restoration work, while another details the scientific research carried out by Roger Smith and others to explain how meadow management affects the species composition of meadows. John Rodwell wrote a chapter on the kinds of meadow in the Dales, and their history and role as a vital component of upland farming. John Craven wrote the foreword, and the book also includes contributions from the farmers themselves.

In 2010, Hay Time won the Environmental Projects category of the prestigious Yorkshire Rural Awards.

The original Hay Time project finished in 2012 when a final report was produced. Further funding has been found to continue the project until the end of 2014.

Hay Time is one of six biodiversity projects to feature as a case study in Biodiversity is life: a celebration, a booklet highlighting some of the achievements in implementing Nature in the Dales, the LBAP for the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

This project has produced a range of useful publications :
Managing species-rich hay meadows for wildlife
Providing seed for restoring species-rich hay meadows
Restoring species-rich hay meadows
Seed propagation guide

This project has inspired further Hay Time projects in the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Page last modified on Wednesday 01 of October, 2014 14:38:12 BST