Meadow restoration project

What is the meadow restoration project?

The aim of the project was to restore the field adjacent to the river back to a wildflower meadows as it would have been throughout much of Chester Farms history. The meadow was identified in 2014 as being a good potential site for meadow restoration, being situated in the Nene Valley and close to other reserves and protected wildlife sites.

The field had a good variety of grasses but due to a lack of management had lost the wildflowers that once would have been present. In spring 2015 the ground was prepared, through chain harrowing, opening up the grass sward, into which a native wet meadow wildflower seed was sown using seed fiddlers (traditional hand operated farm equipment). Reverting back to traditional management of hay cuts will allow the wildflowers to flower and once again flourish.


Why is it important?

Wildflower meadows were once common along the Nene Valley but many have been lost due to gravel extraction and intensive agriculture. Nationally 97% of wildflower meadows were lost through the last century, and the situation is no different in the Nene Valley.

As well as their aesthetic appeal wildflower meadows provide habitat for a range of wildlife, including a variety of insects, in particular pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Birds, dragonflies and bats feed above, while mammals such as hares, mice and voles can be found. They also function as natural flood defences and provide hay for local stock.


What will the end result be?

The end result will be a gradual colonisation of wildflowers across the site providing a greater variety of colour and plants and attracting a greater range of wildlife; butterflies such as Meadow brown and ringlet, bumblebees, pippistrelle bats, birds such as skylarks and swallows, hares, field mice (attracting owls in the evening) and grass snakes basking.

Each meadow is different depending on the location, soils, hydrology etc, but we have had some excellent results in other areas along the Nene Valley and hope to create something similar to Upper Heyford.


Wildlife

Across the Chester Farm site, you may spot:

  • Grasshoppers and crickets and in the long grass
  • Buzzards and sparrowhawks (and maybe owls at dusk)
  • Grassland butterflies such as meadow browns, whites, skippers and gatekeepers
  • Badgers
  • Birds such as blackcaps, goldfinch and wrens
  • Birds from the nearby gravel pit such as lapwing and swans
  • Kingfishers and terns along the river as well as dragonflies and damselflies


Chester Farm

Chester Farm

about 9 hours ago

Chester Farm on Twitter

The crazy leaning chimney @ChesterFarmNcc! Among the issues we have to manage during the #heritage #construction programme. #Listedbuilding https://t....

View on Facebook
Chester Farm

Chester Farm

about 1 day ago

Chester Farm on Twitter

Our #archaeologist keeps a photographic record of all excavations. But he needs the right light levels. Cue #volunteers & some improvising! https://t....

View on Facebook
Chester Farm

Chester Farm

about 2 days ago

Chester Farm on Twitter

Buckthorn in West Wood (so-called as it's on the #Roman walled town's western rampart). Don't eat the purgative berries! #autumn #trees https://t.co/g...

View on Facebook
Chester Farm

Chester Farm

about 2 days ago

Chester Farm on Twitter

One of our #volunteers struck lucky this week. A complete #Roman small bowl. It looks like an upside-down lid but is a bowl! #Archaeology https://t.co...

View on Facebook
Chester Farm

Chester Farm

about 3 days ago

Chester Farm on Twitter

It looks as if our #volunteers have uncovered a #Roman workshop: two hearths with flues are clear & the ground is scorched. #Archaeology https://t.co/...

View on Facebook
Chester Farm

Chester Farm

about 4 days ago

Chester Farm on Twitter

Later the site has been cleared of destructive weeds by our #volunteers, so it looks its best. Now they can get on with digging! https://t.co/zELdvgcc...

View on Facebook