Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Bracken Control with your feet up?

This post has been adapted from an original document produced by George Winn-Darley

A new type of cutting machine offers the opportunity to cut bracken by remote control. The equipment will be demonstrated by representatives of Brielmaier, a German company that supplies a range of machinery developed for cutting vegetation on steep slopes in the Alps. A range of videos, available on You Tube, provide a visual indication of the capability of this equipment.

The plan for the events is to demonstrate Brielmaier's remote control bracken cutting on all sites, and gorse cutting on some of them.  All interested farmers and land managers are welcome to attend.

In all cases access by 4x4 is fine and those arriving by car will be transported to the sites.

27th August
Ysgubor, Dinas Mawddwy, SY20 9LX (south-east of Dolgellau)
By kind permission of Dafydd and Mair Evans.  There will be no toilet facilities but refreshments should be available.

1st September
Carding Mill Valley
SY6 6JG (Long Mynd, west of Church Stretton)
By kind permission of the National Trust. Toilet facilities and refreshments will be available.

3rd September
Howe Gill, Lamplugh, West Cumbria CA14 4TY
By kind permission of Mr Richardson. There will be no toilet or refreshment facilities due to the remote location of the demonstration.

4th September
Barmoors, Hutton Le Hole, North York Moors, YO62 6UE
By kind permission of George Winn-Darley. There will be toilet and refreshment facilities available.

The cutting machines cost £20-30,000 but they are self-propelled and can be operated by someone walking behind them or even from nearby using remote controls.  Some of the machines can also mulch, if required, and other machines can rake the material down slopes to a point where it can be quickly handled and baled at the bottom.

Traditional uses for bracken include livestock bedding and as compost, but these tend to be small scale uses.  A larger scale and more cost effective use could be the production of bio-ethanol.  Freshly cut bracken yields 40-45 tonnes of plant material per hectare.  30,000 tonnes of fresh material would be required to run an ethanol plant producing green ethanol, and therefore 750ha would need to be harvested.  There is a strong demand for green ethanol from refineries who are under an obligation to blend at least 5% with other fuels, and this could provide enough income to make bracken harvesting a commercially viable exercise.

This equipment might not solve all the issues with cutting bracken, and this machinery will not suit a lot of rougher sites, but they will add another option to the tool kit.

Attendance: The demonstration events are open to all, but if you have any questions, please contact the organiser Jeremy Oakley 

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