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Is the grass always greener?

blog pic 29.5.19

Come for a walk he said. How romantic I thought, but how wrong could I be. My first indication should have been when I wasn’t allowed to take our 2 dogs. Into the pickup we went, strange when we were supposed to be going for a walk. When we got to an outlying field, I found out why I had been invited for a walk. Blackgrass. One word but it can mean ruin to cereal crops.

Last year Chris found a rogue patch of Blackgrass which appeared in the corner of a field, he rogued it which means walking up and down the rows, pulling out the rogue grass, by the root and then burning it well away from other crops. As it had been raining it was apparently an ideal evening to check for blackgrass as the rain would mean that the grass would be easier to pull out and not snap off leaving the roots. Our task was to walk up and down the field that was affected last year and rogue out any blackgrass that we could see. We did find some, but I was ‘green eyed’ by the time we had finished and was convinced that I would be dreaming about walking through acres of crops all night.

Now here comes the science bit or why we had to walk miles last night. Black-grass (Alopecurus myosuroides) is a serious threat to cereal crops. Each blackgrass plant can produce 1,000 viable seeds, which grow and then strangle the cereal crop and deprive it of nutrients and then they spread throughout the whole field, multiplying and the seeds can remain dormant for years, so crops need to be checked regularly. Once Blackgrass is found it can take years of careful management to eliminate it or face losing whole crops. Spraying is an option, but some strains of black grass are getting resistant, plus we were rogueing the oat crop and that can’t be sprayed. I appreciate that people assume that we can spray for lots of types of weeds but sometimes its just down to good old-fashioned farming methods that are the most effective.

After we picked all the grass we saw on that visit, apparently, I will be needed for several more visits to make sure we have eliminated all we can, we visited the conservation site which was an absolute joy. We saw lapwings & skylarks; another duck was on the pond and the trees all seem to be thriving. I almost stood on a Mr Pheasant who was most indignant, but I think I got the bigger fright this time. I’m not a patient person but I can honestly see that we really have made such a difference in just the 7 or 8 months since we started the project and dug the pond, before we even planted the trees. I can’t wait until the trees have grown taller and more animals and birds have made it their home.

Maybe the grass really is greener, I hope it stays green and not black.

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