Staff at BGI performed a comparison between the Black Locust Turbo planted for Biomass Connect against other projects on their site and believe that initial root growth may be restricted somewhat by planting in ‘T-notch’ trenches rather than at shovel depth. They did note however that there was plenty of healthy growth and multiple stems on the Black Locust planted on the Biomass Connect plots.
Some damage is being seen on the Eucalyptus nitens variety. This is believed to be from the wind catching the large leaves this variety has, and the stem is breaking on top of the tree guard. The team is engaging with Eucalyptus specialists for advice.
1st August: Herbidome spraying weeds around SRC Willow with Biograde 360
4th August: Miscanthus plots sprayed as recommended by Miscanthus Nurseries.
7th August: Visible weed die-off in Miscanthus plots following spraying.
9th – 11th August: SRC Willow spraying continued.
16th August: Black Locust and SRC Poplar – weeds controlled using the Herbidome.
19th August: SRF trees – poplar, eucalyptus, and Alder – weeds controlled with Herbidome.
22nd August: All SRF plots and weedkiller fence line perimeter completed.
Hub Site Visit
The Biomass Connect Hub Site Coordinators from Rothamsted Research paid a visit on 9th August. The following are extracts from their report:
The Rothamsted Research team arranged a visit to meet with the BGI team, to have a field walk. Two areas of concern to investigate and see first-hand were the Miscanthus area planted in June and the gap issues within the SRC Willow plot.
SRF Demo Plots
The SRF Poplar looked good. Some dead plants were observed, these seemed to be predominantly the A4A variety which some of the other Hub Sites are reporting. It will be interesting once establishment counts start to come in from the sites, to see if this is a recurring issue for the variety. Good to see the weeds clearly dying off around the trees.
Eucalyptus establishment is looking good. Some varieties seem to be doing better than others judging by the growth rate on them. Again, the inter-row weed control is great to see.
The Black Locust ‘Turbo’, like most of the other sites are reporting, are establishing much better the ‘Turbo Obelisk’. Interestingly, BGI purchased some extra saplings and planted these on the site, but in a different area. They used the Auger as opposed to the ‘T-notch’ technique that was used across the Hub Sites and they are reporting much better establishment and a healthier looking plant. This is being discussed with the Black Locust supplier and we will await to hear from him to see what he has to say.
Alder is establishing well. BGI are concerned that tree guards may be hampering growth as plant leaves appear to be drying out and going brown within the tubes. We are consulting with our forestry experts within Biomass Connect for advice.
BGI are tackling the weeds exactly as has been recommended and the control is evident. There are weeds here and there, but the trees are being given every opportunity to establish by minimising weed competition.
The willow overall is establishing well, and BGI are doing great with the weed control as is evident in the photo above.
The issue is that there are some quite long gaps within the crop. BGI were asked to go out and investigate whether there were any willow rods that had been planted but that had not established or whether it had just been a miss with the planter. The rows investigated all showed no presence of any willow cuttings suggesting a problem when the willows were planted. Some other sites are reporting this and have been asked to perform similar investigations.
We are currently researching the potential of gapping up this winter and how to quantify these gaps in our analysis and reporting.
One major point of discussion on the visit to BGI was the poor emergence from the Miscanthus that was planted on the 14/06/2023. Other Hub Sites are reporting this problem too and investigations are ongoing.
The Miscanthus here is establishing much better. A post-emergence spray had been applied a week or so ago and the weeds are starting to feel the effect around the miscanthus.
We were very excited to see the Sida starting to grow. The ones coming away the best were from the larger rhizomes that were planted. We are hoping the smaller rhizomes will push through. Concern for the rhizome stock and the late planting was denting optimism for establishment so it was so pleasing to see them growing.
A brief discussion was had to see if we could source seed from them when flowering to propagate over winter to produce seedlings for the other hub sites who missed out due to the lack of rhizome stock.