Friday, 15 August 2014

Ploughing returns

There's a surprising change to the regular farming methods taking place on parts of Harty at the moment, it's called ploughing, yes, good old-fashioned deep ploughing. Talking to the farmer responsible it's all due to a weed called Black Grass that is spreading pretty much unchecked through arable crops in this country due to it's resistance to current weedkillers.

I rather suspect that modern arable cultivation methods must have helped in the successful spread of this weed as well. 80% of the plants of this weed emerge between August and October and the plants emerge from seed within 5cm of the surface. These days farmers rarely plough their arable fields, they simply scratch over the surface immediately after the crops are harvested and then re-sow for the following year. In this way they are creating perfect conditions for the Black Grass and other weeds to emerge and grow on during the winter.

So, as a last resort, the farmer has turned to old-fashioned ploughing in the hope that he will bury the weed seeds deep enough so that they will fail to germinate and at the same time he will break up the hard surface crust of the soil and improve drainage and aeration - clever people those old time farmers, they knew what they were doing!
Below, I came across this clump of recently hatched Peacock butterfly caterpillars this morning, I've not seen them this late before.

For a few weeks now, most times when I leave the reserve my boots are covered in a fine orange dust, sometimes much thicker than this - it's grass pollen. No wonder my terriers, who are down at grass level, spend the first few hours back home sneezing and snuffling.

Is it just me, but it seems as if we are already in autumn. The weather already has a cooler autumn feel, sloes are ripening fast and the first mushrooms are beginning to appear on the marsh.

On a different note, the sea wall hide is beginning to collect people's unwanted rubbish. Why they feel that we should clear up after them I don't know.

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