Barton Fields

Community case studies


Barton Fields Nature Reserve is an area of grassland and marsh situated next to the Thames, owned by Vale District Council and managed by Abingdon Naturalists Society's 'Green Team'. The site is part of the Radley Gravel Pits Local Wildlife Site (LWS) and has not been in agricultural use for many decades, consequently the soil is low in nitrates and phosphates. Parts of the field are subject to flooding from the river.

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Grassland Enhancement at Barton Fields, Abingdon

In 2008, Lottery funding enabled the creation of a wildflower meadow in the flood-prone area by introducing appropriate native plants. That autumn half a hectare was harrowed and seeded with yellow rattle Rhinanthus minor, and the following year 21 perennial herb species were sown or planted as plugs. The meadow is now mown in March and August with the hay being removed from the area.  Changes in plant abundance over a five-year period were monitored using 47 quadrats.  About sixty herb and seventeen grass species have been recorded in the area and of these 22 herbs have increased significantly while seven have declined.  

The Green Team also undertakes weekly butterfly counts under the United Kingdom Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS).  The walked transect traverses both enhanced and un-enhanced sections.  Butterfly numbers were about three times higher in the enhanced compared to the unenhanced sections, following the creation of the wildflower meadow.

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