This proved quite challenging in some instances, DfI Roads do not have any cut and lift equipment or the capacity to acquire any at this time, and while the Council had some equipment it was not designed for this purpose.
So with regards to the road verges, the plan was to cut them at the most appropriate time of year to allow flowering and setting of seeds, but the grass was not removed. At the annual grass cutter training session, they were provided with optimal cutting times, which they tried to fit into their existing cutting schedules as best as possible.
This proved challenging in a number of locations, while others this worked quite well. At three of the verge sites, Drumcroone Rd, Carhill Rd and Quilly Rd, DMLIG was able to enlist the help of a local farmer and project volunteer to cut and lift the sites and take the arising’s for fodder for their cattle. These three sites have not only shown remarkable improvement from a biodiversity point of view but have improved road visibility due to the shorter finer sward in these verges.
In the Council park sites a variety of methods were used to manage the sites including, using remote control slope mowers and leaf blowers at Ramore Head, using large scale agricultural contractors in Riverside Park Ballymoney along with volunteers using scythes, small cut and lift machinery that can drive over footbridges to get the small meadows, local farmers cutting and lifting for fodder, estates staff cutting and lifting, volunteers raking grass off, to winter grazing with cattle, etc.
Where the grass wasn’t being taken from fodder, it was taken to the Councils green waste facility for composting.
Through being inventive in our management methods we were able to manage all of the Councils sites in a beneficial way.
Acknowledging the multiple benefits of this project, Council has now purchased two cut and lift mowers which can be used for the DMLIG sites, but also used for other purposed such as recreational pitches. This will ensure DMLIG sites and management style are a core part of the Councils grassland management and continue to flourish long into the future.