Our first project has been to mark the lines the trees are planted in with stakes, which have been painted with bright yellow tops. Having installed some 1,500 of these, we are now able to navigate the rows between the trees with our latest machinery acquisitions to control the plants around the trees. The primary villains are bracken and bramble.
The first of these new bits of kit is a bracken roller, which rolls over the ground by simply being towed behind our Kubota RTV. The roller ‘bruises’ or damages the bracken fronds and leaves them lying on the ground.
It's an effective means of control as the plant continues to send nutrients up the frond, rather than sending up new shoots which is what happens when cutting. This operation will be carried out through June and July while the plants continue to emerge and draw energy from their rhizomes.
Our second new addition is a pedestrian tractor unit with mulching attachment, namely an ‘Aebi’; which will be our main weapon in the battle to control the brambles. By cutting and mulching up the competing plants around the trees we will give the birch a good chance of thriving, and should see a high percentage of our new trees survive their early years. This job will be done at the end of the summer when the bramble has all matured to a size that will be most effectively ‘mulched’ by the Aebi.