Now the grass is growing, and the flowers are out, it is a good time to look at your fields and see how flowery they are.

How to assess species richness

To qualify as semi-improved, species rich or unimproved grassland at least two of the following should apply:

  • Cover of rye-grass and white clover is 10%-30% (semi-improved), or less than 10% (species rich/unimproved).
  • Cover of wildflowers and sedges is 10%-30% (semi-improved) or greater than 30% (species rich/unimproved) (excluding creeping buttercup, white clover and injurious weeds).
  • There must be 9 species of flowers and grasses per square metre or greater (semi-improved) or 15 species per square metre or greater (species rich/unimproved) identified – you will need a list of the species identified and for wildflowers their frequency across the field.

It is now an ideal time to get your grasslands surveyed if you think that they may qualify. Understanding your farms natural assets can help you unlock potential funding through Countryside Stewardship, and in the future ELM. You can also take pride in how your farm is contributing to biodiversity and providing habitat networks for a variety of species including pollinators.

Countryside Stewardship to protect, enhance and create grassland options include:

  • Permanent grassland with very low inputs. GS2 (outside SDAs) or GS5 (in SDAs)
  • GS6 Management of species rich grassland
  • GS7 Restoration towards species rich grassland
  • GS8 Creation of species rich grassland
  • GS13 Management of grassland for target features
  • GS14 Creation of grassland for target features
  • GS15 Haymaking supplement

A new partnership project between Exmoor National Park Authority, Headwaters of the Exe and South West Water has funding for a project called Sowing the Seeds which operates within Exmoor National Park. This project focuses on meadow restoration, and we are looking for seed donor sites, as well as sites for restoration and seed sowing. If you are interested in seed collections from your farm, or you would like to improve the species richness of your farm by receiving seed please get in touch. For other opportunities for meadow restoration in Devon visit  and for information and advice visit

The Headwaters of the Exe project is working with farmers and land managers in the upper catchments of the River Exe to promote and support sustainable land management. As part of South West Water’s Upstream Thinking Programme, the third phase of the project (UST3) was relaunched in April 2020 with a commitment for funding until March 2025. The project area comprises the upper Exe, Rivers Barle, Quarme, Pulham, Haddeo and their tributaries. We conduct advisory visits on wide ranging topics including nutrient management; run-off, soil erosion and natural flood management; maintaining, restoring and connecting semi-natural habitats; pesticides and animal health products; and invasive non-native species. We offer capital grants of 50% of costs up to £4000 per holding, with a smaller number of competitive grants up to £10,000.

More information is available via the Headwaters of the Exe page. If you are interested in how the Headwaters of the Exe project can benefit you, please get in touch with Joanna Uglow by email [email protected] / phone 07377 516301 or with Anne May by email [email protected] / phone 07717 837603.