Biodiversity and conservation

Scots Timothy hay fields -

  • Enhances soil quality by reducing compaction and restoring depleted organic matter through root growth
  • Reduces soil erosion and improves water quality by providing perennial ground cover and improving the soil structure, which reduces runoff by allowing water to enter more easily
  • Reduces the need for fertilizers by utilizing nutrients before they have a chance to leach into the water table.
  • Sequesters carbon
  • Creates wildlife habitat—especially winter habitat and spring nesting cover for grassland birds
  • May help connect fragmented habitat,
  • Aids the recovery of threatened and endangered grassland species such as landraces
  • The timothy hay crops on the Carse lands of Scotland are important habitats for Field voles, Common Shrews and Wood Mice and together, these three species make up 82% of what Barn Owls eat in the UK.
  • Provides habitat for important pollinator species that many crops rely upon, such as bees
  • Provide important habitat for species such as insects and insectivorous birds. Swallows, Sand Martins and Swifts are all welcome summer visitors to the Scots Timothy hay fields.
  • The Carse Timothy hay fields provide excellent wintering grass for many wild geese, such as Greylag, Pinkfoot, Canadian Geese and Bean geese are just some of our over wintering visitors - as they do no damage to the sward unlike a wheat field they are welcomed.

The Carse Timothy hay fields provide a perfect habitat for Brown Hares, open flat land, with plenty of bunch type grass for the Leverets to hide in.

Landrace farmers are passionate about the species they have on their land. This article published in the Ayrshire & Arran FWAG 2001 was written by Alan Muirhead, who farms on the beautiful Carse of Lecropt, Bridge of Allan.


"I have observed corncrakes for fifty years and hardly is there a year I have not seen them on mainland Scotland (you must know how and where to find them). A lot of hot air is talked about them, I saw a family creeping out of a hay field a few miles north of Grangemouth not many years ago.

The Carse of Stirling, famous for making Scots Timothy has has continued making hay later in the year, as Scots Timothy flowers about the 10th of July and is rarely cut before that date as you will get a much lesser crop. The early haymakers use Dutch and Danish style mixtures that must be cut earlier as the grasses are earlier maturing and go wirely and lose goodness. Scots Timothy does not lose any of its goodness until after the Glasgow Fair.

In all my years of cutting thousands of acres of hay from the outside of the field to the inside of the field I have not seen a dead corncrake. It is not the cutting direction of the field that is the problem but the kind of seed mixture. As they are birds that like the inside of the field that is their territory possibly because rats tend to keep to ditches and fences and also that they are in a position to observe any human or other dangers approaching.

As their is no subsidy on making hay this old fashioned way of making a living will soon end and the field will become a barley or wheat field claiming subsidy and these wonderful swards of Scots Timothy that play host to many insects, the Swallows, Voles, Grey Partridges, Sky Larks and Brown Hares will disappear. Scots Timothy is open at the bottom of the hay crop allowing wildlife to penetrate the crop and making a better habitat for them. Scots Timothy is now indigenous to the Carse of Stirling. Timothy is now growing in its third century, still producing huge crops of hay and should be protected!

The Dutch Sugar Corporation and The Danish Government buy the Dutch and Danish Farmers Perennial Ryegrass and sell it to the Scottish Farmers through their agricultural Supply Trade. Possibly about 90% of Scottish seed trade. The mixtures sold by trade to Scottish Farmers produces a dense wall of grass trapping the poor Corncrakes and partridges turning the hay crop into a killing field. This could be the main reason for the demise of the Corncrake, Grey partridge and Brown Hare. One of the reasons why there is a come back of mainland Corncrakes could be that years ago perennial ryegrass prices went through the roof and Scots Timothy prices collapsed making it attractive to the seed and trade to include more Scots Timothy in the mixture and making a better habitat for the ground wildlife. The Dutch Sugar Corporation and Danish government have an almost monopoly of the British Seed Trade. The Danish government is subsidising their farmers and killing the Carse of Stirling Farmers and their farmers and killing the Carse of Stirling Farmers and their Corncrakes.