Once again it’s been a bit of a damp August, but we got about a five day weather window in the early part of the month. Our grazer, Steve Hutchings, managed to mow and bale about a 100 acres in a week. He baled a mixture of haylage in wrapped round bales, and straight meadow hay in large square bales. The grass was very thin at the start of the year after our May/June mini-drought, but some wet weather in July and some decent sunshine brought it on quite well and we ended up getting a reasonable yield. It’s been raining on and off ever since so we should count ourselves fortunate.
We have decided to experimentally sow about 10 acres of Lucerne (Alfalfa if you’re horsey or American!) this Autumn. The upside is that it produces far more dry matter than grass, and is a protein rich food source for horses and ruminants. It also ‘fixes’ nitrogen in its deep, drought resistant root system which helps with soil fertility and structure for follow on crops. The downside is that it might do none of the above if it doesn’t take or we get very wet winter (or it just doesn’t like Exmoor!) Nothing ventured nothing gained. If we can get it to go we’ll increase the acreage every year as part of an organic rotation, if not we’ll try something else.