Demonstrator Hub Update – Newcastle University Cockle Park Farm – June 2024

10 July 2024

Cockle Park Farm Site plan

Cockle Park Farm Site plan

June 2024 – Cockle Park Farm Demonstrator Hub Update

June at Cockle Park Farm has seen moderate temperatures and moderate rainfall. Throughout the daytime, temperatures often hover around 17 °C. However, as the sun sets and evening approaches, there’s a noticeable cool-down, with temperatures gently dropping to a more temperate 10 °C. The ground is dry and compacted. Gapping up, planting and weeding have been the main activities this month and things are looking good.

The team from Rothamstead Research visited the Northumberland site on the 29th of May. The plan for the trip north was to plant the Sida at Cockle Park and continue up to Edinburgh to plant the Sida at Boghall. Unfortunately, due to ground conditions from previous wet weather, it was decided to deliver the plants at Cockle Park in order for the team to plant when conditions allowed. It was a good opportunity to walk the site and comments from the subsequent report are incorporated into the crop diaries below. Note: the photos included were taken during the site visit so are from the end of May, not during June.

Crop Diaries

Click on the titles below to find out how each of the crops are progressing.


  • All of the re-planted SRF Alder is growing well.
  • Hand weeding was carried out on 11/06/2024 to get rid of weeds around the plants.
  • The alder is doing great and looking healthy.
  • There is no pest or insect damage to report.
  • The plot was mowed on 26/06/2024 to get rid of weeds between rows.

Black Locust

  • The SRF black locust ‘Turbo’ plot is not looking too good from a pest damage perspective. There is a concern that slug damage could be affecting these plants. There was also some evidence of hare damage. The re-planted black locust are not growing yet.
  • Some of the re-planted SRF black locust ‘Turbo Obelisk‘ have started growing but they are very small.


  • The SRF Eucalyptus plants are growing well.
  • Hand weeding has been used to get rid of weeds especially around the plants.
  • The new larger stakes are working well.
  • There is no pest damage or insect damage to report.
  • Some leaves have been damaged by the wind.
  • The mower was been used on the 26/06/2024 to get rid of weeds between rows.


  • The SRF poplar plants are growing well and looking healthy. Hand weeding has been used to remove the weeds around the plants. The re-planted trees are growing well. There is no disease or insect damage.
  • The SRC poplar plants are doing great. Some trees have dried leaves, but the plant is still alive. There is no pest damage or disease damage The re-planted ones are doing well.


  • The 0.5 ha Miscanthus giganteus plants are growing very well. There is no pest damage or insect damage. Weeds need to be controlled. Cockle Park and North Wyke were the only two Biomass Connect sites that were unable to follow the supplier’s recommendations of Glysophate spraying the dormant Miscanthus crop and then Topping within 24 hours after application due to the very wet ground conditions.
  • The Miscanthus Athena™ was replanted on 20/05/2024. Some of them are starting to come up but there are lots of gaps between plants.


  • The 0.5 ha SRC willow plot was gapped up on the 06/06/2024.
  • The re-planted trees are growing well and shooting.
  • No disease has been observed.
  • Hare damage has been observed which is a concern. Getting these ensconced Hares out of the site is a priority.
  • Two rows have not been gapped up as there were no spare plants left.
  • Some of the willow has yellow and crispy leaves.


  • The Sida was planted on the 04/06/2024 with 53 in a row.
  • It was watered on the 08/06/2024.

Reed Canary Grass

  • The reed canary grass was drilled 08/05/2024
  • Grass rows are now visible.


  • The switchgrass was drilled on 08/05/2024
  • Grass rows are now visible.


  • The Silphium was drilled on 09/05/2024
  • Some plants are now starting to appear.

Plans and Actions

  • Electric fence lines are being monitored regularly.
  • Glyphosate was applied around the fence on the 26/06/2024.

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