17 Mar 2016

Welcome to the Next Generation of Grazers

Bruce Langridge

I’ve just been over to look at the lambing sheds on our Waun Las NNR.

It’s a real treat to see the new lambs here every spring. My heart finds them wonderfully cute whilst my head understands how important they are to us.

Helping our farmer Huw Jones were pupils from Bro Dinefwr who are doing a Level 2 Agriculture course at Coleg Sir Gar. This is a great experience for the students and they help to ease some of the workload for Huw who hasn’t had much sleep over the past few weeks of lambing. It’s been a bumper year for lambs, with around 300 so far and another 80 or so expected, more than we’ve ever had to deal with before.

The increase has been down to our partnership with Coleg Sir Gar’s Gelli Aur campus. This agricultural college is helping us to improve the commerciality of our organic farm without compromising our commitment to farming for biodiversity across the nature reserve. Anyone who has tried the beef and lamb from Waun Las can tell you how tasty and nutritious it is, and we’re keen to produce more to satisfy a growing demand.

Grazing at the right time and at the right levels can really help improve the floral diversity of our fields – undergazing can be as harmful to biodiversity as overgrazing. So whilst over at the farm, I went for a walk with Mark Needham, a lecturer at Gelli Aur. Mark is looking into carrying out experiments on Waun Las to look at the impact of grazing levels on biodiversity. We went to Cae Derwen and Cae Waun, two beautiful meadows on the south side of the nature reserve that have been gradually improving their species diversity over the past few years, enough to make a grazing experiment worthwhile.

Mark’s also interested in measuring the effect of spreading compost that we’ve created out of hay collected on Cae Tegeirianau (Orchid Field) last summer. This compost, which is composed of fine grasses and wildflowers, is due to be spread onto one of our intensively grazed fields, Cae Circus, in order to improve fertility and grass production. We’ve not tried this before and we’re not sure what the effects will be. We’ll let you know later in the year how we get on.

And if you want to know about the field names I’ve mentioned here, look out for my next blog.