Bracken Rolling on Croft Ambery

This summer you may have seen Crunchie with two of his cobs working in the wood pasture or perhaps on the lower rampart of the Iron Age Hill Fort as depicted in the video clip above. The Cobs were pulling a roller which is used as a low impact method of bracken control.

Once bracken takes a hold it is very difficult to get rid of it. It becomes a dominant monoculture and has the effect of reducing the diversity of other plant and insect species in the area. Bracken smothers sensitive habitats and this smothering process is achieved by the fronds blocking light and rainfall and as a result of the bracken litter, it prevents other species being able to become established.
Bracken litter provides an ideal moist, warm habitat for sheep ticks and the spread of bracken has been linked to a perceived increase in tick numbers. spread diseases that, can affect birds, wild and domestic livestock and pets.
Bracken can provide great landscape interest, particularly in the autumn, but if it replaces other species that are also important for the landscape, its impact is seen as negative.
Where large stands of bracken grow close to footpaths and bridleways the bracken can impede access and block the view of the surrounding countryside. In such situations, the overhanging fronds can bring people into contact with questing sheep ticks; this increases the risk of a tick bite and disease transfer.
The spread of bracken rhizomes can damage archaeological features and removal of bracken from scheduled ancient monuments, such as the Iron Age Hill Fort, is encouraged.

Crunchie with two of his Cobs

Rolling crushes young bracken fronds that emerge in the spring and weakens the plant by bruising the stems and causing them to bleed this in turn depletes the rhizome of energy. It can take several years of persistent rolling to weaken the rhizomes to the extent that the bracken is almost eradicated.

The video clip shows Crunchie working two of his cobs, Snippet and Ivy.

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John Parsons