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An update on Yellow Rattle at the Shapwick Reserve in the South West...

After successfully introducing Yellow Rattle to several of our fields (after years of trying) volunteers have been able to collect an abundance of seeds from this semi-parasitic plant species. A couple of years ago seeds were collected from plants in neighbouring Shapwick Heath Nature Reserve and sown into prepared beds on the Shapwick reserve in several of Shapwick's ungrazed fields.  

Although difficult to establish, Shapwick staff and volunteers were delighted at the success of last year’s crop. With the seeds germinating and flowering. Previous attempts to sow the species by using green hay and direct planting had failed. It is hoped that the success of these newly established plants will increase in the coming years. 

This year the reserve has been keen to increase the areas with these Yellow Rattle plants. Notably, the importance of these plants is to encourage meadow areas to return to established grassland. The Yellow Rattle spreads well and will reduce the )vigorous grass growth allowing more varied flora to grow and succeed.  

Due to the unpredictable weather in 2022 hay cutting was pushed back until later than normal. With the established Yellow Rattle in seed, the collection this year lasted for 5 weeks! The seed heads were collected, dried and when shaken out several kilograms of seeds were able to be collected.

In August strips of land were rotavated in field margins and in our non-grazed fields. Recently volunteers used the rotavator kindly donated by HabitatAid in 2020 to prepare the land and plant the collected seeds. The success of this project continues and we look forward to updating you as this project develops. 

 

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