August 2023 – Hub Site Update
The following is a combination of reports from the hub site manager at Headley Hall and reports from a site visit by the Hub Site Coordinators from Rothamsted Research on August 11th.
The weather this month has been pretty wet and mild for August. The rain has been beneficial and plants are actively growing and looking good. Generally, the establishment is excellent.
- The odd plant in the SRF poplar block has died off. We are not sure of the reason, the majority of other blocks look good.
- The SRF Eucalyptus establishment is very good. Some plants are starting to emerge from their tree guards.
- The Alder is doing well, there may be some pest issues on a few plants.
- Both Black Locust areas are generally doing well, but some hare damage (hares nipping off the top 20 cm of new shoots) was evidenced.
- The SRC willow 0.5 ha area has established well and is generally weed free. Pre-ems have worked well. The few thistles that are there would benefit from being spot-treated. There is also some hare damage.
- The SRC willow var trial is also establishing well apart from the ECC genotypes that were T-notch planted (due to their time in customs and cuttings rooting).
- The SRC poplar is growing away well, with excellent establishment.
- The Miscanthus var trial is mixed, some plots have established well, and some are more patchy. All film-planted rows have broken through. There is quite heavy grazing across the trial. Some charlock is emerging and will need to be treated.
The entire site has a large weed burden, mainly Fat Hen, Thistle, and OSR/Charlock which is currently being tackled. We have been using a handheld Stihl strimmer with a metal blade attachment as this cuts through the large Fat Hen and Thistles better than the wheeled strimmers we have purchased.
In all the Miscanthus blocks we have sprayed a post-em of ‘MCPA and Harmony M’ to keep on top of the smaller weeds, this seems to have started to take an effect on the weeds.
We have topped between the SRF Poplar trees as the gap between these is 3m x 2m and can fit the topper through.
Some of the other blocks such as the Eucalyptus have a 2m x 2m gap between plants but due to the tree guards around the Eucalyptus the topper will not fit down the aisles. NIAB are looking into hiring a small topper or using a smaller mower in the meantime.
We have carefully applied Glyphosate herbicide to the weeds in the SRC willow variety block to keep on top of them.
The ‘Cobra Wt56B Wheeled Trimmer’ that we purchased has a cord attachment which is the only option available for this model. This may be better on smaller weeds however the size of the Fat Hen is too much for it. We also have a ‘Portek RufCut Brush CutternWheeled Trimmer’ which seems to cut well but again not on the larger weeds.
We have topped all the margins of the field and installed the electric fence around the site using the fencing that Rothamsted Research organised. The solar-powered fencing units are doing a decent job. We have sprayed off around the fence to stop the weeds from interfering with the electrical current.
The following photo gallery contains photos taken at the NIAB Headley Hall hub site on August 11th 2023