March 2023 – Overview of progress to date
The grassland site was in good condition ahead of taking management control in the summer. Grazing of the grassland continued until glyphosate was applied to the site and it was ploughed.
Fencing to protect planting where required
Permanent rabbit fencing due to the large population of rabbits living in the proximity has been recommended as a result of the grazing risk assessment. If this is not possible, temporary rabbit fencing will be used in an attempt to protect newly established crops from grazing pressure from the rabbits.
Standard autumn ground preparation
Once baseline soil sampling was complete, the site received a glyphosate application to kill the grass sward. All areas were then ploughed. Areas for Miscanthus and other energy grasses were left in plough over winter. Areas for woody species were power-harrowed and perennial rye grass (PRG) was established.
The site was monitored over winter and in February and March the following was reported:
- The trial areas for the grass species that were left as furrows have dried well and should easily be workable by April assuming we don’t get significant unexpected rainfall. The cold weather has broken the soil down well and it will require minimal cultivation to provide a suitable seed bed.
- The areas that have been drilled in preparation for the woody species are still quite wet especially the area planned for the Willow variety trial. The area for the 0.5ha SRC willow plot has dried better than the other drilled areas due to being on a slope. This area should be workable by April.
- Some of the Grass seedlings in the drilled area appear to have been lost over the winter. The seedlings were very small going into the winter and extremely cold periods appear to have reduced the seedling density.
- Some dicot weeds are beginning to emerge in both the areas for woody species and grass species. Currently weed seedling density is low but we expect it to increase significantly as average temperatures increase. We expect the trial areas will need to sprayed with a herbicide prior to establishing the trials.
- Rabbits have been active across the site and the site is currently too wet to spray (March 2023).
Spring ground preparation
- Rain in March has prevented access to the site as it is sitting very wet.
- Demo Plots SRF, SRF POP and SRF EUC are to be sprayed off with glyphosate using a knapsack to facilitate planting these areas.
- When mechanical access is possible, and pre-cultivation, P2O5 and K2O will be applied based on the data from the baseline soil analysis made in December.
- Lime will be added at a rate to adjust to pH 7.
- Once the spray has worked and the site has been inspected to ensure no spray misses (10 days) the timings and plans for planting will be made.