On moving to Cwmllwyd we chose to manage the land less intensively, so for 18 years there have been no chemical inputs used on the holding to promote such high levels of growth. Furthermore, stocking levels have been considerably reduced - there have never been more than 24 ewes (with lambs in the early days) in ten acres of grazing. The hay meadows are grazed each year until late May, when the fields are shut until haymaking - usually in August. It takes all summer to make hay on the mountain! The result of this management style is that it is now very difficult to find any rye grass at all in the smaller of the two fields and not a great deal in the larger one, either. Productivity has been reduced to less than 50% in terms of the number of bales made each year. Both fields are vastly more floristically diverse than before, particularly the smaller meadow. As you would expect, there's masses of Yellow Rattle and Eyebright and now Red Bartsia is showing, too. These are what's seen off the rye grass, I believe. There's a wonderful scent, as well, from Sweet Vernal Grass, which shares the field with Meadow Foxtail, Yorkshire Fog, Crested Dog's Tail and other grasses.
One outcome of all of this is the enhancement of the holding for wildlife: three days ago I saw a Green Hairstreak butterfly in the small hay meadow and today managed to net a Small Yellow Underwing (last seen here on 5 June 2010). A very pleasing result and evidence, I think, that doing nothing is a vastly underrated management technique which could and should be applied more widely for the benefit of wildlife!