Giving wildlife and young farmers a helping hand at Llyndy Isaf
Llyndy Isaf is the home of our farming scholarship scheme, which has a strong focus on nature friendly farming. The low levels of livestock make it the perfect place for a young farmer to gain practical farming experience whilst also allowing nature to thrive.
The farm is in the Glastir agri-environment scheme, therefore there are careful stocking plans needed for each parcel of land. For example, all stock are taken off the mountain and ffriddoedd for the winter. Whilst this creates a winter feeding challenge, it prevents native shrubs such as heather from being grazed out.
The levels of grazing on the mountain over summer are also kept at a low enough density to allow woodland regeneration to occur. Down by the lake, the cattle graze the bogs and mire so that purple moor grass and rushes aren’t allowed to take over, allowing bog myrtle and various other shrubs and flowers to flourish.
There are only 4 ‘improved’ fields at Llyndy - improved fields are generally lush green in colour but not very rich in terms of the the variety of grasses and flowers. These fields hugely importnant to the farm and are under pressure to provide winter forage for the animals, grazing during the lambing season, and some good quality grazing for fattening. However productivity, good soil health and diversity needn’t be separate.
This year we are going to sow ‘herbal ley’, which is a complex mix of grasses, legumes and herbs which can be described as the ‘fertiliser merchant, food manufacturer and vet all in one’! The richer mix of grasses and herbs will help improve soil quality, mineral availability for the animals, and improve the diversity of these fields.
Making space for nature
Water voles have undergone one of the most serious declines of any wild mammal in Britain during the 20th century. On farmland, the cutting of grassland to improve productivity has reduced their habitat area. Therefore on Llyndy, many fields adjacent to a water course have been left uncut, to allow the water voles to burrow through the reeds and eat the rushes. Low grazing is also practiced, to reduce the likelihood of trampling.
Controlling invasive species
Mynydd Llyndy (Llyndy mountain) has been farmed at a low intensity for years, therefore the woodland is expanding naturally and native shrubs have flourished here. However rhododendron, a non-native invasive species, threatens to take over and swamp out our native plants. The rangers and scholar have been addressing this through ongoing control work, incluing pulling out young saplings, stem injecting and focussed foliar spraying.
More time for monitoring
As we'll now be trialling a 3 year scholarship more akin to an apprenticeship, this will allow the scholar more time to develop ideas on the farm, working closely with our ecologist to monitor changes.