Summer’s beginning to enter its long, slow turn into autumn, and although the swifts have already followed the summer south and the swallows will soon do the same there’s still warm days and sunshine to enjoy. When this combination happens, from late July through to the end of September, we make the most of it and actually make hay while the sun shines. This is when we manage our meadows, right across Fife. Little patches of jewels in among the fields of grain and fodder grass, something once common is now a rarity.
Since the 1940’s demands for produce have meant we’ve put more land under the plough than ever before and changed the way we ask farmers to work the land. Unfortunately more fertilizer = less wild flowers. An astonishing 7.5 million acres of meadows have gone. We measure loss of rainforest in a scale of ‘the size of Wales’. Worrying measurements in an area so vast. Our loss is 1.5 times the size of Wales, in Britain. Every patch we help survive is important.
A square metre can have 30 or more plant species in it, and there can be hundreds across the whole site. Pollinators are vital to our food production, but crops may only provide nectar for a short period. An acre of meadow can give enough nectar for over 100,000 bumblebees. All Summer. Every day!
They’re a summer refuge for amphibians and are better at carbon capture than woodlands, ( they keep working all year round) but the only way they keep doing all this is because of how we manage them. Cutting at haytime every year and in some places grazing them. It’s easy to clock up 12 miles in a day in one field, and you’ll see us out behind machines and with pitchforks and rakes. Big machinery isn’t good for wildlife, and a lot of the sites wouldn’t suit tractors anyway. Hard work, but with a great result.