Hectares

Pigs foraging in the woods
Cattle grazing on scrubland
Image 2: Wyre Woodland Pigs © Wyre Community Land Trust;
Image 3: Grazing Cattle © Bournemouth Borough Council;
Agricultural Income
Agricultural Income

Overview

Grazing

Large parks with meadows, fields and informal grassland can be used for grazing.  Commercial graziers, normally food and/or wool producers will typically pay between £75 to £200 per acre (0.4 ha)per annum to graze their livestock (e.g. sheep, llama, alpacas, horses, ponies, cattle).  This form of grazing is typically seasonal and in winter the livestock will often be moved inside.

As well as grazing for wool and food production there is also amenity grazing.  This is grazing for recreational and sports uses, for example equestrian centres and livery stables.  Higher rents can typically be charged, in excess of £200 per acre (0.4 ha) per annum.  However, the land can often be grazed more intensively than wool and food production grazing, partly because the animals are used for recreation all year round.

Zero grazing is a reversal of traditional grazing.  Instead of bringing the livestock onto the site, a livestock owner will come and cut the grass and take it away to feed the livestock.  This form of grazing avoids the negative impacts of having animals on site, whilst also ensuring the grass is cut.

Potential graziers can be identified via the local National Farmers Union office, the Grazing Animals Project (GAP) website and Natural England's regional Grazing Forums.

Woodfuel

A park or open space with an area of woodland could be used create woodfuel.  Woodfuel is an important part of the UK's renewable energy supply.  The fuel can be produced from thinnings from woodlands and from crops like short rotation coppice.  The Forestry Commission has been involved in developing the woodfuel supply chain.  Their website has information on how the woodfuel supply chain works and available grants to encourage the growth of the sector.

Coppicing

Coppicing is a rotation woodland management method in which the wood from a tree is harvested by cutting a suitable tree near ground level.  It subsequently regrows over a period of years without needing to be replanted. Small areas of a woodland are cut each year in sequence leaving the areas not being cut to grow on for between 15 and 20 years for chestnut, and about 7 years for hazel.

When an area of coppice is cut, it is all cut down, and creates a clearing. This periodic coppicing encourages the individual trees to live for up to hundreds of years. If the coppice cycle is managed correctly it can increase biodiversity in the woodland because of the beneficial effects of varying light levels reaching the woodland floor, and the range of different aged trees and stools in the woodland.

Hazel is important as a source of wood and had many uses. Many of these uses relied upon the flexibility of the wood which could be twisted and even knotted. Uses include thatching spars, net stakes, water divining sticks, hurdles, furniture, firewood. The hazel nuts were also a prized food source, so much so that cultivated forms of hazel were bred for their nuts or 'cobs'. Now, however, grey squirrels strip the trees before the nuts can be harvested. In addition,  Hazel coppice is an economically viable crop, renewable source of wood and with at least 400 gifted craftsmen working in Great Britain, can offer rural employment.

Questions to Consider

The Land is suitable for
Does your site have sufficient meadow, grassland and/or woodland?

The Land is suitable for
Is the site large enough to accommodate animals?

The Land is suitable for
How would visitors respond to animals on site?

The Land is suitable for
Is your site in relatively close proximity to farms and/or riding schools?

Pros and Cons

The Land is suitable for
On site grazing saves money on maintenance costs whilst also generating income.

The Land is suitable for
Zero grazing saves money on maintenance costs, generates income without having livestock on site!

The Land is suitable for
An ‘agricultural activity’ on-site may help to unlock Single Farm Payment and/or Agri-Environment funding

The Land is suitable for
Grazing can damage the site, particularly if the site has specialist flora and habitats.
The Land is suitable for
Livestock and dogs do not tend to mix well!
The Land is suitable for
Health and safety considerations of having livestock on site.
The Land is suitable for
On site grazing can require more management.

Further Information

The Grazing Animals Project (GAP) is a partnership formed in August 2008 and comprises Natural England, the National Trust, Defence Estates and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. It supports local grazing schemes and aims to be the first point of contact for information and advice on conservation grazing.  It has established an online discussion group called Nibblers, to enable best practice and experience of conservation grazing to be shared.  The website also has a ready reckoner to calculate grazing costings http://www.grazinganimalsproject.org.uk/index

Natural England also has regional grazing forums http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/

Forestry Commission, Woodfuel resources: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/england-woodfuel

National Biofuel Suppliers Database: http://www.biomassenergycentre.org.uk/portal/page?_pageid=77,681226&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

The Confor Woodfuel Suppliers' Group (WSG) was set up in 2011. Its purpose is to provide a forum for businesses in the 'supply side' of biomass to network and access information: http://www.confor.org.uk/

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