Hulme Walfield Meadow
This 2.5 hectare site is owned by Cheshire beef farmer, Phillip Ardern, and has been managed sympathetically for wildlife for many years now. Phillip’s commitment to exploring sustainable agricultural techniques and his unrivalled enthusiasm for wildlife conservation made him a perfect candidate for the project. In 2015 Cheshire Wildlife Trust approached Phil to see whether he would like to attempt to restore one of his fields to a species rich, wildflower meadow. The answer was a resounding yes!
The particular area of Phil’s holding that was selected as a receptor site was an area of grassland pasture which had received very little in the way of agricultural fertiliser for the past 30 years. This coupled with the fact it was located less than 5 miles from Cheshire’s other receptor site, Swettenham Meadows, made it a perfect location to attempt restoration. We are hopeful that in time the two receptor meadows, which are in such close proximity to each other, will provide improved connectivity for pollinating insects to move more easily through the Dane Valley.
Ground preparation on both sites consisted of weed control in the form of spot spraying using a selective herbicide and topping followed by power harrowing which created roughly 70% bare ground. Following this in the last week of July 2016 a zero grazing mower was used to harvest a crop of green hay off roughly two thirds of the donor meadow. The material was then spread over both receptor sites using a rear discharge muck spreader. The area of the donor site we left uncut was subsequently revisited at the end of August/early September and, with the help of the Trust’s brush harvester, seed from later flowering species was collected. It is hoped that this approach will help in establishing as broader range of species as possible.