Compost and Cup Fungi

Every year the Wildlife Trust Conservation Volunteers mow the “scrub field” meadows, after they have flowered and set seed, and carefully remove the mowings. This continues the traditional management of the site and ensures that the beautiful wildflowers can continue to flourish at Bradlaugh Fields.

Mowing the Orchid Bank in August

Mowing the Orchid Bank in August

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Ideally the mowings would be grazed off by cattle, or made into hay and removed completely off site, but for various reasons this is not possible and the mowings are piled up outside the meadows making, effectively, some large compost heaps! These have now had all Autumn and Winter to rot down and are rich in nutrients such as nitrogen.

Composting mowings high in nutrients

Composting mowings high in nutrients

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Such conditions are not good for the meadows, whose wildflowers need low-nutrient conditions to be able to thrive, but they are great for those ‘greedy’, fertiliser-hungry and weedy plants like nettles – which would overwhelm the meadow flowers –

High nutrient conditions great for rank vegetation like nettles

High nutrient conditions great for rank vegetation like nettles

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as well as cup fungi that live off the rotting plant material, breaking it down and recycling the nutrients.

Cup fungi

Cup fungi

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They in turn are consumed and broken down by a host of other creatures, especially insects, which may then be eaten by birds, and so on …

Bradlaugh Fields 13th April 013

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