Removing cut material - Exminster

Jempyne
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2021 7:07 pm
Location: Exminster

Removing cut material - Exminster

Post by Jempyne »

We have a parish council managed meadow of a couple of acres or so - at the moment it is mown and cuttings left in situ, We want to try and remove them - too much to do by hand , but have no idea where to turn for someone who has the kit and could do this - I guess the cuttings of grass , which will include nettle and dock would have no value and would need to be composted . Question is how much would it cost and would it be deemed affordable by the Parish Council - any advice?
User avatar
Steve Pollard
Site Admin
Posts: 114
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2020 11:03 pm
Location: Chagford, Dartmoor
Has thanked: 181 times
Been thanked: 63 times

Re: Removing cut material - Exminster

Post by Steve Pollard »

Nettles and dock are OK in silage...to a certain extent - if there's not too many of them (though it's better to hand pull/cut the docks to stop the seed spreading). More of an issue for silage made from amenity space meadows is the bacteria from dog poo. However, yes, it's a much better plan for meadow making to collect the cuttings than to leave them in situ. If the space is accessible to farm machinery then your best bet would be ask a local farmer/contractor - is there one on the parish council or near to Exminster that you can ask - someone must have a farmer friend? If there is no dog poo and not too many docks and nettles, then a farmer *may* do it in exchange for the crop. If it has to be composted - or put on a dung heap - then you'd have to pay for the cutting, raking, baling, moving and then cutting the net off - there'd be no need to turn or wrap it and it wouldn't have to done in good weather. The key would be to find someone as local as possible. If it's not too grassy there'll be 6-10 round bales per acre. As it's a small field, and assuming it's not fiddly, expect to pay at least £10-20 per bale, depending on distance and how much they want to do it, but you'll need to get a quote or two and then OK it with the PC. Good luck!
nickygradyscott
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Dec 17, 2020 12:33 pm
Location: Chagford, Devon
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 5 times

Re: Removing cut material - Exminster

Post by nickygradyscott »

Failing getting it turned and baled it can be composted. Ideally it would be mixed with some tougher materials (like woodchip) to allow an airflow through and then a good aerobic compost could be made - which could be used on other Parish projects such as community gardens or allotments. I was taking quite a volume of grass cuttings from our churchyard to be either used as a mulch on my allotment or layered with thatch (from the thatcher) to make compost - works a treat!
Jane W
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2021 4:17 pm
Location: Cotes D'Armor, Brittany, France
Has thanked: 21 times
Been thanked: 20 times

Re: Removing cut material - Exminster

Post by Jane W »

For making compost how did you collect up all the cuttings? Are there any machines which can do it? or must it be done by hand? Any tips? Did you then put it all in a compost bin or just leave in piles to rot down?
Amy
Posts: 112
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2021 1:09 pm
Location: North Devon
Has thanked: 46 times
Been thanked: 68 times

Re: Removing cut material - Exminster

Post by Amy »

Jane = just on the compost point - I agree with Nicky - it works a treat. Last year we topped our fields in late Sept, let it dry a few days, raked it into rows and then picked it up all with small tractor-drawn side rake and buck rake. The topper chops the grass/seed stems up small, (so there's no hay to bale,) and we left it in large heaps, uncovered, to rot down over the autumn, winter and spring. (If you do it earlier/or leave it longer, large grass heaps are "a supreme egg-laying site" for grass snakes to lay in. https://www.arc-trust.org/news/compost- ... -your-help).

Having dug docks in the fields all spring, I didn't get to the garden until mid June, when I spread the most wonderful dry and easy to handle grass stem compost, as a really thick Charles Dowding-no-dig-style mulch on top of wet newspaper to smother the weeds.

The top parts of the heap were dry and the spread compost has lasted all summer with no weeds growing on it. I have had fresh weeds growing on a bed which I think was mulched with wetter compost from the bottom of the heap and was possibly mixed with the underlying soil when we scraped it off the field to bring it to the garden, but those weeds have only rooted in the loose compost so they are very easy to pull out.

Serendipitously, leaving the mulch until June, meant that self seeders whether ornamental or desired wild flowers in the borders, were evident and could be left and mulched around. The only change I'll make next year, will be to cover the heaps which were left for longer, after June, so that any living grass underneath does not try to grow through.
Jane W
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2021 4:17 pm
Location: Cotes D'Armor, Brittany, France
Has thanked: 21 times
Been thanked: 20 times

Re: Removing cut material - Exminster

Post by Jane W »

Its very interesting, and food for thought....thanks for all the info Amy....just an incidental observation on the subject....I cut some pathways with the scythe this year and didn't have time to clear away the piles of cuttings ( about 1m x 1m maybe smaller). When I did finally clear them away a few weeks later underneath them was bare ground and it's only starting to grow back now ...several months later. I wondered if the heat from the composting material had actually killed the plants and even the seeds underneath each pile.

There's quite a lot of effort and expense spent by people to get bare ground, harrowing etc...and for small scale plots maybe this is a realistic option to create it.....and to get some compost made at the same time. Anyone else got any experiences of this? I have certainly started a few more experiments with leaving compost piles on areas I wouldn't mind clearing.
Amy
Posts: 112
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2021 1:09 pm
Location: North Devon
Has thanked: 46 times
Been thanked: 68 times

Re: Removing cut material - Exminster

Post by Amy »

Jane - I do leave grass clippings or cut meadow grass to clear ground, or even temporarily smother docks to halt their growth until I can get to them and dig them out, (docks will grow through heaped grass eventually,) and I clear the heap away when the soil is bare and before the covering dissolves into the ground. I think clearing the heap before it dissolves may stop enrichment of the soil underneath, but I know that other people disagree. As I have poor soil anyway, I think a little temporary enrichment doesn't matter.
Jane W
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2021 4:17 pm
Location: Cotes D'Armor, Brittany, France
Has thanked: 21 times
Been thanked: 20 times

Re: Removing cut material - Exminster

Post by Jane W »

Yes....good point.....I can see that this technique may not work with plants with tough roots...which will just grow through in the end, as you say. Docks, brambles, bracken etc. And removing the pile before too many nutrients leach out too...yes, an important consideration when you're trying to keep soil fertility low.
Even so, it sounds like there's some mileage in the idea, as a way of giving yourself patches of bare ground here and there where you can throw some seed, or plant out spare plants. My garden beds are always chock full of self seeded clover, scabious, yarrow, fumitory and bugle and I'd love to have bare patches to plant them into.
Post Reply

Return to “East Devon”