Hill farmers in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the North Pennines are to benefit from a unique project to preserve and enhance the diversity of the regions’ upland hay meadows.
Farmers with weed-free meadows containing desirable species, such as Lady’s Mantle and Wood Cranesbill, can donate the harvested seed to the Haytime project in exchange for £240/ha from entry in the Higher Level Stewardship scheme.
Alternatively, some growers could opt to supply green hay, which will be removed and dried before the seed is collected.
These farmers will receive about 400/ha from the HLS scheme.
Project officer Pippa Rayner expects the majority of seed buyers will be producers hoping to qualify for Higher Level Stewardship by restoring or enhancing hay meadows.
“The two areas contain more than 40% of the UK’s remaining upland hay meadows, which are very important for wildlife habitat,” said Dr Rayner.
“They will need to be managed without fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides.”