St Martin’s Farm Gets Funds For Haylage Project

cattle grazing 3A project that will allow more cattle to be kept on St Martin’s has been awarded £7,800 from the AONB’s sustainable development fund.

The money will pay half the costs of buying a small bailing machine for Churchtown farm. This will allow them to produce haylage, a cross between hay and silage that’s better suited to Scilly’s climate.

Ben Julian from Churchtown says it’s difficult to produce good quality hay on Scilly because the cut grass needs to dry for many days in the open field. The alternative, silage, where grass is left for just a couple of days, before being cut into fine pieces and fermented under sealed plastic in large pits, takes up a lot of space on the farm so is fairly impractical here, says Julian.

But silage, where the cut grass is cut and baled, then stored for winter, is already proving a good compromise at Troy Town farm on St Agnes, and Churchtown are keen to do the same.

Ben says it’s difficult to sustain a larger herd in Scilly because the grass soon runs out, even though it grows all year unlike on the mainland.

A farm like Churchtown could maintain around three cattle on grass, but need to buy in extra feed for their herd of ten Ruby Red Devon cows. He’s hoping to expand to twelve soon.

The haylage will mean they can reduce their need for expensive feed bought in from the mainland.

But the AONB needed to get special permission from Defra to award the grant in this financial year. They’d already spent the £38,000 SDF pot for this year when the application from Churchtown came in.

In order to kick the project off before the summer haylage season, the money will be awarded this year, but taken from next year’s fund allocation.