Friday 24 July 2015

Raking around

We've been a bit quiet of late on the blogging front. It's not that we don't have lots to share.... it's more that we've been so busy out and about!
One of our current projects has been in our orchard. We've had quite a lot of work to do this year in here and it hasn't stopped with the advent of summer.
Whilst the trees and the hedgerow seem to be doing really well, the orchard floor is dominated by lots of dense, tussocky grasses and rushes. In time we would like to see a greater floristic diversity in the form of grasses and wildflowers.
Therefore as part of our new orchard maintenance plan we decided to do more targeted management of the orchard floor. Wildflowers like nutrient poor soils. One way to achieve this is to cut the grass and rake it off. By removing the biomass we are preventing the grass from mulching back into the soil and by repeating this process a number of times, should begin to lower the nutrient levels.
The orchard pre-cut
The best tool for the job these days is a power scythe (traditionally it would have been a scythe). This cut the grass at the base which allows for it to be raked up and removed easier. It took a whole day to cut the orchard which the power scythe losing on a number of occasions to some dense tussocks.
The power scythe in action
2 days later the volunteers came in to rake the grass up. A long and tiring job, but a very important one.

We managed to get most of the grass raked into piles and around half of the piles removed.
So still lots of work to be done in here but a great project to work on and a new one for us at Corehead - hopefully to be continued!
Site Officer

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