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LANCE Trust went to mow the meadow...

Traditionally, species rich meadows are 100% cut and cleared in the mid-late summer - even with flowers in full bloom - seriously damaging the wildlife dependent on the nectar and grass, and greatly reducing their populations and spread.

Lark Meadow in June 2023

Over the last two years, the LANCE Trust has established the 1ha Lark Meadow and we are now managing this developing species rich grassland for wildlife.

Sowing Lark Meadow in October 2021

An experiment to show wildlife's dependency on good meadow-management

In late summer last year, after much thought, we decided to experiment and compare the effects of 50/50, 100% full cut, and no cut. 

The meadow was flailed (mowing, but on a larger scale!) in five-meter strips leaving five meters uncut in between. The cut vegetation, of no great bulk, composted quickly and was drawn down by worms improving the soil structure for the future. As it was a late cut (1st October) ‘set seed’ would also have been dispersed.

Flailing in October 2023

In comparison, the uncut swathes will have self-seeded naturally and left all insect life-cycles intact with viable eggs, larvae, pupae and adults safely protected amongst the sward over winter. This standing vegetation, as it has faded and begun to collapse through the winter, has provided both much needed cover and a food resource for lots of wildlife including voles, maybe even harvest mice, plus skylarks and meadow pipits.

The 5m strips left after flailing

As spring emerges, we wait to see the results

This winter, we've observed many seed heads still intact in the untouched strips, which will offer essential winter food to birds and insects.

Furthermore, the fallen grasses in the uncut strips will have provided habitat and protection in the frosty period we had this January.

Knapweed and grass seed heads still intact on the uncut strip in January 2024
Fallen grasses in the uncut strips are providing cover and food for biodiversity underneath

We are looking forward to monitoring life in Lark Meadow again in 2024!

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