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Rushing to the finish line

Rushing to the finish line

This is my first blog post since returning to Soil Association Scotland, after a year away working abroad. And I’m absolutely delighted to be back! Together with David Michie I’m working on a number of field labs (testing different techniques on farms to see what really works), and of course I am still obsessed with controlling rushes.

If you have been following our activities over the last year or two, you may have read about (or attended) one of our Controlling Rushes without Chemicals field lab meetings. This has been one of our most popular topics – especially since we’ve recently had several wet years and rush cover has increased on many farms as a result; the wet conditions which favour rushes also make it difficult to get on the ground with machinery to tackle them.

The field lab looked first at addressing the underpinning issues of soil management, such as drainage, soil structure, pH, P and K. Since then the focus has moved on, from how to tackle problem areas effectively, to what comes next (it is important though that the soil essentials are addressed before moving on to secondary measures, in order to maximise the chances of success). Workshop sessions paid particular attention to reseeding and grassland management – especially methods of reseeding, selecting the right seed mix for your situation and highlighting the importance of effective aftercare.

We’re now coming to the end of the field lab, and planning a grand finale event to pull together the common themes that have run through the meetings. We’ll summarise our top tips for controlling rushes without chemicals, and hear from some of the host farmers about their experiences, what worked for them, and what didn’t.

The event will take place near one of our host farms in the autumn – contact us to let us know if you'd be interested or follow @SoilAssocScot on Twitter to hear about it first. You can also read all our notes, learning and guides on controlling rushes without chemicals on our field lab page.