wild bird mix of plants for field.

We met up with someone who is trialing a wild bird mix for fields. It consists of a winter crop which includes quinoa and other grasses that attract birds to feed on them.

At present our field is all grass and weeds, nothing that particularly attracts birds although there are probably many insects, and butterfly lava hibernating in the field and plenty of rodents too judging by what the cat catches.

Has anyone got any experience of this type of field crop.  The other suggestion was to sow wild flower seed but apparently this is more labour intensive and has to be repeated annually, although I know that biennials or perennial seed is probably less intensive after the first year.

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  • What a smashing project to look forward to GD.  I do recall something about swathes of wild flower seeds being sown for the London Olympics - it looked pretty good a couple of years on but whether that would suit your field ? Local council/environmentally friendly farmers maybe ?

    There are varied mixes which you have no dout already looked at.  Some people say you need to actually plant plugs rather than sow the seed broadcast because the various grasses tend to just take over.

    Perhaps Nutcutlet will have some advice ?

    Best of luck anywayimage

  • Thank you philippa, annual wild flowers certainly do look lovely in a suitable natural setting - the bees and birds love them too.  However we have been told and also seen for ourselves, that in the second year the weeds tend to take over, and in our case bindweed was the problem and impossible to eradicate without starting completely from scratch again, which is too  much work for me and also for my OH who is a reluctant gardener. Planting plug plants in a field this size would be a huge task and not one that I could manage on my own, although I wish I could, in flower they would look spectacular.

    Admittedly this wild grain/grass project would have to be undertaken by outside help, and we have to weigh up whether we can justify the expense, although the pleasure we would get from seeing the wildlife should make it more than worthwhile, and also what would we do with the field for the rest of the year.  At the moment, the farmer cuts one lot of silage a year from the grass for winter fodder and has only put livestock in the field once (6 weeks) in the past 12 years, so hardly worth his while either.

  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 875

    GD, if you are really serious about this , contact RSPB for advice. They would probably want to know details of the wider surrounding habitat. Don’t know if there is an RSPB presence in the Channel Islands but I think they could help or put you in touch with people who could help.

  • I have an area of meadow that requires little attention for most of the year. It looks attractive wth a succession of flowers from April to about the end of August. I cut it right down in September and rake it off and then it looks tidy until the daffodils start to flower again. As it is next to the sheep field, there is some excess nitrogen along that edge and I have to police it for nettles and willowherb.

    The bank at the bottom end has a large number of wild flowers growing there and I do nothing to it at all except remove nettles, thistles and overly large docks or hogweed. It looks beautiful in July and August, but the thugs would take over if left to do so.

    Most of the wildflowers were here already, but I grew Agrimony, Betony (Stachys officinalis) and Geranium pratense from seed and planted them out and they have carried on seeding themselves around. As the meadow has developed I have seen an increase in the numbers of butterflies and other insects, especially Meadow Browns, and frogs and toads hide in the long grass in damper areas.

    The big question for you is the management regime, as the field is too large for you to deal with on your own. One solution might be if you could find someone to graze it on a more regular basis, but the timing needs to be right and you don't want to overgraze. Redwing's suggestion of the RSPB is a good one, they have done a lot of work developing meadows here in Cheshire and have plenty of expertise.

    I can find some pictures of my patch if it sounds interesting or possible.image

    Last edited: 23 December 2017 22:05:33

  • It does sound incredibly interesting Buttercupdays, and if only I was fitter and stronger, it would be something that I would love to undertake.  However I have to face the fact that I am neither of those, and realize that perhaps we should have done more with the field when we bought it 10 years ago. However at that stage the farmer was more active, grew crops in it each year and we felt the field was being put to good use.  Now he just moans because I won't let him use chemicals to control the weeds, so he reluctantly comes to cut for silage once a year.

    I am pleased that you have noticed an increase in wildlife - that is what it is all about isn't it?  We should all be providing the right breeding grounds for nature to thrive rather than struggling against humans taking over of their environment.  I will certainly give the RSPB some thought over the next few days, whilst also mulling over this pollinating project.

    Photos would be great if you have some to hand - I am open to ideas at the moment but I know that we must move fast if we want to see something other than grass and weeds in the field this Spring.

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