Restoration of a floodplain meadow in Wiltshire, UK through application of green hay and conversion from pasture to meadow management.
In July 2010 green hay from a species-rich donor field was used to diversify a species-poor floodplain meadow (the receiver field), which had previously been managed as a pasture. The receiver site was prepared through harrowing. Green hay was then collected from the donor site and spread on the receiver site using a bale shredder and spreader. It was then managed as a hay meadow, with an annual hay cut in July or August, followed by aftermath grazing. The vegetation in the receiver field was monitored from 2010-2017, as was an adjacent species-rich meadow, which was used as a target reference site. Over this period, the receiver field moved towards a species-rich sward, similar to the target Alopecurus pratensis-Sansguisorba officinalis floodplain community. In 2011, 12 months after the green hay application and change of management, species richness had increased significantly, as had the goodness-of-fit to the target floodplain-meadow community. The transformation from species-poor eutrophicated grassland to a more herb-rich floodplain meadow continued over the following six years, with further increases in the frequency and cover of target species.