Because our meadows are filled with diverse species, they will not make hay until mid- to late-July. Now, in June, the grasses are tall and the perennial plants are into their flowering season.
Our grasses have grown well, despite the lack of rain.
Red clover (Trifolium pratense).
Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus).
Both of these, along with the white clover which grows all over the farm, will fix nitrogen in the soil. Our aim is to achieve meadows which fall into either the ‘semi-improved’ or the ‘unimproved’ category, through diversity of species.
The tannins contained in clover and trefoil are thought to reduce the amount of methane produced in a cow’s rumen.
The first black knapweed (Centaurea nigra agg.) flower of the year. We think of this as common, or lesser, knapweed.
Meanwhile the greater knapweed (Centaurea scabiosa) is only just in bud.
Clovers, birdsfoot trefoil, knapweeds, plantains and rough hawkbit are rich sources of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). In the rumen, ALA is converted into a powerful cancer-fighting compound known as CLA, with onward benefits for human health along the food chain.
Ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi).
White campion (Silene alba).
Common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuschii). This may be the commonest British orchid, but it’s still a thrill to find it growing in our meadows.
© Three Fields of Hay 2017