Rhos (or ‘moor’) hay production is a traditional practice to the Elan Valley area. In times gone by rhos hay has been cut in August / September on the open hill, and used as feed and / or bedding for cattle and sheep during the winter months. Only one or two farmers still continue this tradition. However, the practice is beneficial for nature by ensuring greater diversity of management on the open hill and can also have economic benefits for the farmer where there is a suitable use for the cut hay.
This project will encourage rhos hay production by farmers and deliver farm-scale investigations into the best ways of making and using the hay in order to generate a more economic and sustainable product. In so doing, we will reinvigorate this practice which is so important to our cultural and natural heritage.
Rhos hay is a strongly localised, culturally significant, agricultural activity, traditional to some hill areas of Mid-Wales. The practice involves cutting excess and less palatable (largely overgrown molinia) forage on suitable areas of open hill and using this to make hay for feed or bedding. Cut areas are typically not re-harvested for three to five years to allow the sward to recover.
This project aims to rejuvenate this distinctive management system through a three-pronged approach:
financial support for better management of existing rhos hay areas along with the creation of additional areas
farm-scale trials to establish best-practice systems for cutting and harvesting as well as for using the product as feed and bedding, and any other potential uses
capital support for purchasing temporary trackway to reduce soil compaction and damage by machinery in boggy areas thereby removing a major barrier to uptake