Bracken control, often referred to as ‘bracken-bashing’, is a means of managing the spread of this fern species in woodland and grassland habitats. After woodland thinning, or at the boundary of woodland-grassland areas, bracken can become invasive, inhibiting the growth of grasses and flowers, or natural woodland regeneration. Our horse-drawn bracken rollers are designed to bruise the bracken stems as they pass over the vegetation, with multiple passes improving the effect. This forces the bracken to use its stored energy in repairing itself, rather than growing and spreading through its system of underground roots, or rhizomes. This work is undertaken during a discreet window in late July/ August, when bracken has reached its maximum growth, but is yet to begin storing winter energy in its rhizomes.
Large areas of SSSI acid grassland are being lost to encroachment by bracken. Many management methods have been trialled, but working with the horses has proved the most effective in stopping bracken spreading. It also helps by limiting compaction of sensitive soils, and impact on flora. While working, we have found we are able to be responsive in avoiding late-nesting birds, and the many historic anthills that date back hundreds of years. Similar benefits are found when working in woodlands, being able to avoid young and sapling trees, fallen logs, and accessing hard-to-reach places.
Contact us if you have a problem with bracken and let us demonstrate how we work.