Harvest flowering meadows
One of the actions programmed by the ELIA-Life is the creation of 20 acres of flowering meadows under high voltage lines.
In this context, contact has been made with the company ECOSEM (http://www.ecosem.be/) specialized in the production and marketing of seeds from grasses and native flowers.
In parallel with the purchase of seeds from ECOSEM, it was also interesting to directly harvest flower meadows with their local harvesters made for this purpose. This second solution provides the possibility to customize exactly the origins of the seeds: altitude, type of soil, specific species...
After, such extensive natural grasslands had to be found; indeed these ones are getting rare in our region.
The edges of tracks from the military airfield of Saint Hubert correspond quite well to these requirements. Located on the plateau, these grasslands do not undergo any amendments or fertilizer intake since the creation of tracks by Canadians in the immediate postwar period. These meadows are mowed late in the year (during August, after flowering) once a year for decades. They are rich of flowers species which are characteristics from the high Ardennes habitat, some of these flowers have become rare in this region.
The following species can be encountered among others: Spotted Orchis, Platanthera green leaves, Platanthera two sheets, twayblade to oval leaves, Agrostis common, red fescue, Furbish woods, Epipactis broadleaf and little pyrrole.
These plants more rare are mixed with other more common ones but just as interesting as the common Marguerite, the Leontodon, Plantains and Knapweed of the Wild Chervil, St. John's Wort, the Brunelle, the Trefoil, Tall Buttercup and the curdles milk white.
An agreement was agreed between our LIFE project, the National Defense and DNF, allowing us to harvest those fields.
Mowing has been scheduled in two times (early August and early September) to enjoy a wide range of species, all seeds do not arrive at maturity at the same moment.
The 9 and 10 of August, the sun was out and the small harvester was going through 2.4 acres of these valuable grasslands, eight large bags of seeds were collected, representing about 250 kg of seeds.
The total weight of seeds used will be known after drying and sorting (removal of dust for exemple). This should create approximately 5 acres of flowering meadows, according the rule attesting that 1 ha of harvest can create 2 ha of new grassland.
These seeds, when dry, can be kept for more than three years, thus enabling LIFE to plant them at the best time for the project agenda.
A second harvest is expected in about two weeks in order to harvest plants that mature later.
This operation was conducted in collaboration with the local cantonment of DNF which will take some of the seeds to recreate natural grassland for a future LIFE. (http://biodiversite.wallonie.be/fr/life-tourbieres-saint-hubert-2003 -2007.html? IDC 3077). The logic of ecological corridors through power lines take on its full meaning by creating new links between flower meadows and allowing a better circulation for the different species.