How Scything is helping our Nature Reserves

Grass cutting is a big part of habitat management at the Wild Ground nature reserves, and we have been using Austrian scythes and lots of volunteer power as our main method of cutting grass to maintain paths, pond edges and wildflower fields on our nature reserves.

Austrian scythes are very light to use and easy to maintain. Historically scythes have been used as grassland management tools for centuries and were the main tool for harvesting cereals and cutting vegetation for animals until relatively recent times.

The use of scythes by volunteers on our reserves allows everyone to be involved in a conservation technique that makes a big difference to nature.

Scythes can be just as efficient as a strimmer, and anyone can use one with minimal training. They are safe to use in the right hands and are a joy to use if they are kept sharp.

A hidden delight of using a scythe as opposed to a mower or strimmer is that you can hear the birds singing, have a chat with your mates, get some fresh air and exercise as you go. In addition, scything works wonders for core and back strength!

Cutting grass with a scythe is relatively simple. A team of “mowers” start cutting the field in a line going from one end to the other, the grass being cut is piled up in “windrow” or “arisings” to the left of the mower ready for collection. The steady pace of the grass cutting also allows animals such as newts, frogs, voles, and toads to escape the swish of the blade in time to get out of the way.

As we don’t make hay on our reserves, we cut and rake away the grass and create habitat piles for grass snakes to lay their eggs in and provide shelter for creatures to over winter. Cutting and removing grass lessens the amount of nutrients available to the soil which benefits the wildflowers growth as they like soil conditions that are low in nutrients.