There has been a lot of interest in herbal leys of late, but it is not a new idea as it was mentioned in farmers' guides going back a hundred years. All manner of articles and reviews have been written letting us know the advantages of growing these diverse forages. The Government is particularly keen to promote herbal leys through its mid-tier countryside stewardship scheme, providing environmental support payment to those who are willing to establish ‘legume and herb-rich swards’.
These leys help to reduce the input of artificial fertilisers; provide drought resistant grazing in dry summers; help reduce the worm burden in grazing animals; show that where a range of species are grown together that their yield increases above situations where they are grown individually; help to improve soil structure through deep rooting herbs accessing water and minerals at different depths in the soil; and increase the ability of the soil to hold carbon and water. Alongside this wide range of agricultural and environmental benefits they also provide rich habitats for invertebrates and crop pollinators.