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How our management is changing

Traditionally, our roadside verges in NPT are all cut every 2-3 weeks during the growing season i.e. late March to end September and the arisings are mulched and dropped on top of the grass. This fertilises the soil, encouraging further grass growth. As of 2021, at certain locations as agreed with the Streetcare Services Section, we will be changing this management and instead encouraging the growth of wildflowers and reducing the frequency of required cuts through the use of ‘cut and collect’ machines.

Traditional "Cut and Fly" management

  1. Mower mulches as it mows, returning the nutrients to the soil 
  2. More grass grows, more quickly, outcompeting other species 
  3. Mowing needed again within 2-3 weeks 

"Cut and Collect" management

  1. Mower collects arisings as it mows, gradually reducing the amount of nutrient that fuels grass growth 
  2. Grass growth is less vigorous, reducing the frequency that mowing is required and increasing the diversity of wildflowers 

As well as managing grasslands on publically owned sites to encourage wildflowers, the intention is that by the end of five years, all verges in NPT will be managed in one of the following ways: 

Nectar Cut

.All verges where a short sward is desirable will be changed from a 2-3 weekly cycle of mowing to a four-weekly cycle, allowing short-flowering plants to complete their full flowering cycle and increasing the nectar available to insects. Where possible, the arisings will be removed to reduce the nutrient content of the soil. This is based on research by Plantlife (Plantlife No Mow May 2020NB1).  Whilst this cycle will still result in short flowering species being cut, the scheme will work on the principle that there will remain a sufficient nectar source in the wider area to provide a net gain for pollinators. 

Conservation Cut

Certain rural verges e.g. lanes between villages, which will not be cut inside the flowering season (April-September). We will aspire to include as many verges in this classification as possible within workforce constraints.

Meadow Cut

As conservation cut but certain sites will be cherry picked for meadow management i.e. cut using a cut-and-collect machine, arisings left in piles on site, no mowing between April and August and edge-cuts to maintain a neat appearance. Any such designation will be dependent on suitability of the verge for depositing of arisings. 

Visibility Splay

Cut as regularly as required

Amenity Cut

Verges which are used as public open space and require regular mowing.  

 

In the first year (2021), a number of sites in each ward will be identified in order to trial this scheme. Sites are agreed between Neighbourhood Services staff and the Countryside and Wildlife Team and then approved by the local member before inclusion in the scheme.  

At the end of 2021, targets will be set for increase each year, leading to the fifth year, by which time all verges will be classified and managed appropriately. Areas can be re-classified if required in response to monitoring.   

The initial priority will be to increase the number of meadow cut verges and undertake trials of the Nectar Cut approach before rolling out further. We will take a phased approach to the changes, allowing time to adapt to member feedback / concern, changes in staff practices and to adopt a gradual process of change of machinery as replacement becomes necessary.