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Wet grassland for farming and wildlife

Training course participants out in the Avalon Marshes looking at wet grassland.

 

Much of the focus in the Avalon Marshes has been on the nature reserves which lie at its heart.  However, most of the area is characterised by wet grassland which has been farmed since the area was drained.  The loss of this wet grassland to other forms of agriculture would fundamentally change the area’s unique landscape and wildlife conservation value. So, working with FWAG (the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group), two training courses were held in May to help farmers and landowners develop the potential of their wet grassland.

The first course focussed on developing the potential of the more commercial areas of grassland outside the designated areas.  Although less important for conservation these areas are vital to the viability of farming.  Grassland consultant Charlie Morgan shared his expertise and experience, particularly focussing on soil management and how to maximise productivity at the same time as minimising inputs.

The second course focussed on the conservation value of wet grassland, and in particular fields lying within the raised water level areas.  Cath Mowat from Natural England shared her expertise on how to conserve the area’s wet meadows; encouraging wild flowers, improving conditions for breeding waders and dealing with problem weeds.

Both courses included trips out to look at examples of current practice, including fields near Mark and on Tealham and Tadham Moor.  The project has been delivered through the Heritage Lottery funded Avalon Marshes Landscape Partnership scheme and will conclude with visits to individual farmers, advising them on the particular challenges on their landholdings.

 

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