Voices from the Floodplain: a poem

This free verse poem is composed from the words of many floodplain farmers who took part in interviews and questionnaires as part of my Hay Days PhD research project into the management of floodplain meadows for sustainable farming. Arranged and read by me, Vicky Bowskill, and presented along with a montage of images from projectContinue reading “Voices from the Floodplain: a poem”

Book review: Meadow, the intimate bond between people, place and plants

Author: Iain Parkinson. Photography: Jim HoldenKew Publishing (5 May 2022)ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1842467476, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1842467473 This book is truly a delight – and I’m not just saying that as I have the privilege of being included in it’s pages, perched atop a bale of sweet meadow hay! I was just aContinue reading “Book review: Meadow, the intimate bond between people, place and plants”

Working with seasonal growth on floodplain meadows

This blog first appeared on the Floodplain Meadows Partnership website here. Our traditional floodplain hay meadows are a haven for biodiversity, but they are also part of our agricultural landscape and depend on the annual cycle of haymaking and aftermath grazing to maintain their value. These meadows show characteristic seasonal patterns of growth and floweringContinue reading “Working with seasonal growth on floodplain meadows”

Hung, Drawn and Quartered: a meadow season

Here endeth the second field season of my PhD, researching some fabulous floodplain meadows in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. I was fortunate to be able to complete a full field season this year after being curtailed by lockdowns in 2020. This year my research has been hung, drawn and quartered, which wasn’t nearly as painful asContinue reading “Hung, Drawn and Quartered: a meadow season”

Burnet and Blue

Burnet: A most precious herb, the continual use of it preserves the body in health and the spirit in vigour. Culpeper Great burnet (Sanguisorba officianalis) is a stately denizen of our floodplain meadows – a larger cousin to the more diminutive salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor) that you might find in upland calcareous grasslands or asContinue reading “Burnet and Blue”

The Hay Days of Captain Quad Rat

This poster was produced for the Open University 2021 Poster Competition and delightfully won both the People’s Choice Poster and the Judge’s Choice Best Use of Imagery categories. Captain Quad Rat and I are very pleased! You can download this from Open Research Data Online.

Fifties Family Farming

Haymaking has changed dramatically over the last century and is set to change again under new agricultural legislation. Where once the aim was simply to preserve a good yield of summer sunshine to last the winter, the focus up now is increasingly on achieving an optimum balance between producing healthful fodder whilst also promoting biodiversityContinue reading “Fifties Family Farming”

How hay makes meadows

This article was originally posted on the Agricology website. Read the full article here. A healthy floodplain meadow in June is a spectacular sight, teeming with life in every hue. So, it may seem odd that this is also the time farmers choose to mow it all down for hay. But they’ve been doing thisContinue reading “How hay makes meadows”

Video: How hay makes meadows

PhD researcher, Vicky Bowskill, explains how meadow flowers are able to thrive, despite being mown for hay every summer. Further reading: Video: Yarnton and the importance of haymakingwww.floodplainmeadows.org.ukHaymaking is critical to our heritage hay meadows, but is later really better? Transcript This is a floodplain meadow. It’s mid-July and you can see that the swardContinue reading “Video: How hay makes meadows”

Video: The Art of Hay Sampling

This video was filmed during data collection in June and July 2020. PhD student, Vicky Bowskill, demonstrates how she is sampling floodplain meadow hay to investigate the way nutritional content changes, depending on when it is harvested. This can help land managers to maintain healthy meadows, whilst also providing a balanced diet for pasture-fed livestock.Continue reading “Video: The Art of Hay Sampling”