Broomlands Meadow Management

Project Outline

To purchase a hay/silage mower, mini round baler and mini round bale wrapper to manage semi-natural grassland at Broomlands, in the locality of Broomlands and in the Heathfield – Battle Ridge area.

Project Benefit and objectives

Broomlands is a 70 acre holding nestled in woodland within the High Weald AONB. This area of Wealden landscape is typical in its character, history and biodiversity. The pattern of small irregular fields divided by species rich hedgerows, distinctly divided by steep sided ghylls with densely wooded reliefs containing exceptional archaeological and historic sites typifies the High Weald’s rich tapestry of history, heritage and wildlife.

Under restoration at present are 4 small, steeply sided fields, the site of a Deserted Medieval Settlement which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) with it’s own microclimate. Amongst the anthills there is a massive diversity of species – Devil’s-bit Scabious, Eyebright, Common Knapweed, Agrimony and Common Bird’s-foot Trefoil can all regularly be found.

Appropriate management of this unimproved grassland is achieved mainly by grazing but in some areas late cutting hay or silage is done either every year or every few years. The new equipment will be ideal to cope with the inaccessible and very steep nature of the site. Mowing will have another benefit of providing winter feed for our pedigree herd of Sussex Cattle, a species ideally suited to a low input style of management.

The SAM is in an High Level Stewardship scheme allowing educational access for all to enjoy.

The new equipment will also be used to provide a service to small grassland owners. Many small wildflower meadows fall outside commercial farming systems and therefore their sites remain unmanaged or alternatively are cut very early. One of the ways of assisting landowners who no longer have neighbouring farmers interested in cutting (and removing) hay or silage on small areas is to provide a service using this machinery.

The new machinery will be ideally suited for this purpose because:

  • It is small and can be transported on a trailer towable by Land Rover so travel time to more distant sites can kept to a minimum.
  • Its compact size means that access to inaccessible sites will be easier.
  • It has been developed in Alpine regions, so steep sites will not be a problem.

Offer letter extracts:

  • The HWLT will require that you promote both your meadow cutting and removal service & support from the HWLT Grant Scheme on the machinery and in any promotional or publicity material.
  • The machinery has been purchased for long term sustainability of grassland management. Every effort should be made by you to be available for cutting and removal jobs for small landowners in the High Weald AONB with the intention of covering at least 20 acres in 2007, 40 acres in 2008, and 60 acres in 2009. NB/ Trust liaison with the contractor has concluded that due to the nature of the small machinery that 20 acres per annum is the most likely figure expected and achieved.