Farming Matters: Hedge laying still a handful

Hedge laying
Hedge laying

Hedge maintenance was traditionally carried out between January and March in the long distant past when hedge laying was all done by hand.

But for a long time now, with the introduction of machinery, hedge cutting (which is quite different to laying, but still falls under the mantle of hedge maintenance) has started in early autumn.

The move towards earlier maintenance occurred as agriculture became more mechanised.

And with more arable land around, many farmers like to cut their hedges after the combine has been in. It’s difficult to impossible to get a tractor onto arable land in the winter, although grass land is accessible for much longer through the winter months.

Hedge maintenance stops as spring arrives and birds begin to nest in the hedgerows.

Farmers who are naturally in tune with nature always stopped as a matter of course, but as with so many other things the EU saw fit to introduce regulation for common sense and so there is now a rule stipulating that no hedge cutting can take place with flail mechanical cutters after the last day of February. There is a slight extension into March for hand cutting. Machines can start again in August.

If you’re keen to see a spot of traditional hedge laying you might like to pop along to Waddesdon Estate on Saturday October 26.

The 35th National Hedge Laying Society championsip is being held there from 9am.

There will be various competitions throughout the day as well as trade and craft stands.

Entry £2 adults, 50p children.