Thursday, 18 June 2009

Bracken Control

Bracken is now well established throughout the country although inevitably it will be more advanced in the south than the north. Those who are able to control their bracken by mechanical means, such as: cutting, bruising, pulling etc, will have started work last month, but the season for controlling bracken with chemicals, principally Asulox, is nearly upon us. The season starts when the bracken fronds are fully extended (late July onwards) and ends when the plants start to die back (late August onwards).

The Trust is working for the owners of the Asulox brand, United Phosphorus Limited (UPL), to help with the promotion of bracken control, using Asulox where appropriate. I have been asked to circulate some information to our contacts reminding people of the proximity of the season for applying Asulox as well as promoting bracken control in general, and this will take place next week. As part of this work, we have established a web site, which has more details about bracken control - A conference is under consideration for early next year and this will see the launch of a bracken control guide produced by the Trust and sponsored by UPL that will summarise all available methods of bracken control.

In the meantime, the Trust is retained to offer bracken control advice to anybody who wants it up and the details are on the bracken control website or can be obtained by contacting the Trust.

Bracken is one of the most successful plants in history. It is present on every continent, except Antarctica, and has existed largely unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs. I believe firmly that not enough work is being done on bracken control at present. As a result we are seeing bracken spreading into many areas where it has been controlled, or has not been present, in the past, and this can move the vegetation towards a monoculture, rather than the maintaining the diversity of species that I would like to see. To a large extent, I suspect that bracken control is grant driven and it is something that the policymakers need to consider carefully if our upland areas are not to be buried under it.


  1. It is interesting that the results of UK Countryside Survey 2007 show a 17% decrease in the area of dense bracken cover in the uplands, although this is mainly in Wales. I expect that some upland land owners will find this result surprising.

  2. Ian,

    Thanks for the input and your perseverance in the face of adversity.

  3. Lincolnshire AlpsMonday, 06 July, 2009

    Talking of bracken control, according to SEPA they have simplified the process of applying to undertake aerial spraying. A new web-based form will hopefully make things faster and easier, as well as cutting out all the paper.

    Under the new scheme, one form is sent electronically into SEPA which in turn contacts Scottish Water and SNH, and then SEPA feeds back any specific requirements back to the applicant.

    On-line application is available at then click on 'Forms & Public Info' and then select 'Bracken Spraying and other Herbicide Use' and you'll find the application form for aerial spraying listed as an option.

  4. Yes the electonic system adopted by SEARS in Scotland for dealing with aerial bracken spraying proposals has led to a great improvement in the speed and efficiency of dealing with these applications. However, it appears that the Environment Agency in England have not yet moved on to a similar system which is a pity - and possibly time they did!
    Rob Dick


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