August 2023 – Hub Site Update
This summer has been very wet. Some areas of the paths are becoming wet and traveling on them will cause damage. However, there are no signs of wet areas within any of the plots.
Other than very minimal grazing immediately after planting there has been no pest or disease issues. Sheep gained access to field 1, however, due to Electric fencing being erected around the boundary of the field they only grazed the grass paths and caused no damage to the plots.
Until recently there has been a very low weed burden in all the plots except the 0.5ha scale miscanthus plots. Little control has been required other than mowing the inter-rows in the woody species plots. There has been a wide range of weeds in the 0.5ha miscanthus plots including fat hen, dead nettles, common fumitory, docks etc. Harmony M SX was applied at 80g/ha in early August. This has successfully treated all weeds other than common nightshade.
- There are some gaps in the Willow variety trial. This appears to be genotypic with plants missing in each rep.
- There has been some emergence in the last month in the Black locust “Turbo Obelisk” plots.
- Areas for the grass demo plots and the Miscanthus variety trials have been sprayed off.
- Aisles were sown with grass in 2022 and have been mown throughout 2023.
- Electric fencing has been erected around fields 1 and 2. The fence lines have been sprayed to remove the grass.
Hub Site Visit to IBERS
The Biomass Connect Hub Site Coordinators from Rothamsted Research paid a visit on 14th August. The following are extracts from their report:
Overall, the establishment looked good across the site, and IBERS been doing a great job in inter-row mowing and strimming. The electric fencing that Rothamsted Research had ordered and sent to the site was all in place, which was very pleasing to see. Especially as it had been done around all three fields as the plan below shows.
- SRF Poplar looks to be establishing well. Some dead ones were observed.
- Most of the Poplar looked to be doing well. The odd one within the plot looks to have died. A decision will have to be made to see if they are gapped up or if the variety should be recorded as a failure.
- Eucalyptus, as at other sites, some were doing better than others. The variety E. nitens is doing really well as it is appearing well above the top of the mesh guards. Also, the inter-row mowing is keeping the site tidy.
- Herbidome would be effective here in killing off weeds around the base of the tree guards.
- The team are keeping an eye on leader branches growing through the mesh of the guard and has asked Eucalyptus Renewables for advice on how to deal with them.
SRF Demo Plots
- Inter-row mowing is keeping the weeds down. However, the Black Locust ‘Turbo Obelisk’ may require a hand weed around the base of the plants if weeds are growing into the plant.
- All tree species in this area would benefit from the Glysophate application with a 350 Herbidome to reduce weed competition.
- The establishment looks good here. The early erection of an electric fence for this plot when rabbit activity had been observed has no doubt foiled some early grazing damage.
- Some of the bigger weeds near the Poplars could do with being hand rogued out.
- Inter-row spraying has been recommended to kill weeds.
SRC Willow 0.5ha area
- An Electric fence is in place.
- Some gaps are present, possibly due to problems with the mechanical planter that were witnessed on the day they were planted. We are currently researching the potential of gapping up this winter and how to quantify these gaps in our analysis and reporting.
- IBERS team members have spent two days removing, by hand, Fat Hen in the commercially planted Willow and Miscanthus areas. A good decision to remove it before it sets seed.
SRC Willow Variety Trial
- As with the other sites that are hosting this trial, the EEC supplied varieties that were held up at customs on entry into the UK and had to be planted using the T-notch technique have predominantly failed to emerge. A decision will need to be made regarding gapping up.
- The other varieties are coming away well.
- Concern was expressed by the Hub Site manager at IBERS that they looked a bit small in comparison to the ones he had seen at the Headley Hall site recently. They were planted at the start of June, and this was prior to one of the driest June’s on record, so this could well have had an impact on establishment.
Miscanthus 0.5ha areas
- An electric fence is in place.
- A post-em had been applied a few days prior to the visit. It looked like some of the weeds were already yellowing off a bit.
- Miscanthus in both plots looked to be establishing well. Better than some of the other sites that have been visited recently.
- Establishment was quite a bit less in the Miscanthus Athena in comparison to the Miscanthus Giganteus. The plants that had been established looked well but there were some obvious gaps.
2023 Miscanthus variety trial
- Spraying of the post-em’s on the Variety trial had not been possible. So far the weather has prevented the tractor getting back to apply it. The team have been using a push mower between the rows.
- The 2024 trial plot could be sprayed off now to kill weeds.
- Other Miscanthus varieties not doing so well. (N.B. These plots not planted by IBERS)