Bracken Fern on pastures - what to do?

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Shell, Dec 7, 2013.

  1. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    i'm not into running animals on land, but i think if you approach this
    gradually as you build up experience in running grazing animals
    you can recondition a paddock by having the animals trampling
    and breaking up the bracken, but also because their poops become
    fertilizer for the next generation of plants that will help the taller
    growth outcompete the bracken, in time.

    this is a summary, of course...

    smother what you can with organic matter, reseed taller plants
    to shade, encourage diversity and then graze it appropriately.

    sound feasible for not too much expense? perhaps. conditions
    can vary so much... what may work in one area may not work in
    another, etc.
     
  2. Jason_H

    Jason_H New Member

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    I had a look over the prospective property yesterday, 50 acres of thick bracken requiring treatment. This will be a decent undertaking whichever way it is approached.
     
  3. antonius

    antonius Member

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    I see pigs have been suggested , but if your soils are fragile and the aim is to restore it and the plants to a more older previous condition-- would nt a native or local grazing animal fit into it a bit better--wallabies--or maybe your neighbours dont like them?--i dont know how high the little buggers can jump and what kind of containment fencing is needed but i have had a little experience of pigs ---and they do like to escape---only electric discourages it --pigs are good but i think better on wetter soils and more varied vegetation --that can handle their heavier ground use from their rooting and sharper feet -- less tilling and soil damage---and you might want to save the endangered little ground dwellers from being gobbled up up---dont know from experience but i think the wallies are strict vegans
     
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  4. Jason_H

    Jason_H New Member

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    I did think about pigs too, but would need a fair few for 50 acres of bracken, and then what to do with the pigs? We dont really want them on our permanent farm so would need to try and sell them. Maybe it would be possible to borrow/lease pigs. The other concern with pigs is that the bracken is located on land with a slope of 1:10 to 1:20 in varying areas, so I am worried about the erosion that industrious pigs and rainfall might generate. Local wildlife like roos and wallabies tend to prefer different food, and then there is the issue of trying to contain them.

    All local farmers have suggested a combination of glyphosate/metsulfuron-methyl/pulse over a couple of applications to kill the infestation. Obviously an expensive exercise let alone the environmental factors, and not our preference.

    Considering all of the factors its looking like this block of land is not the one for us.
     
  5. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi Jason, I suppose you could always eat the young ferns (but not too much): https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/06/the-bracken-fern-a-natural-born-killer/241271/
    This article gives some idea of what you're dealing with ... rhizomous roots and spore casting are the two main avenues of propagation. In the "Control" section, both cultivation and slashing (probably in combination with plantings of pasture crops) will do the trick in a couple of years: http://weeds.dpi.nsw.gov.au/Weeds/Details/235
    Do you have access to heavy cultivation equipment?
     
  6. Mirrabooka

    Mirrabooka Junior Member

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    I'm interested to clarify if bracken is allopathic for trees, as grass is?
     
  7. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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  8. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    i've not really studied ferns that much, but they do seem to be
    everywhere around here if the conditions are suitable. they
    are spore bearer so they can easily get around. i'm not sure
    they can be easily eradicated other than by making sure your
    land is managed to avoid their taking over.

    we have ferns growing in areas here that are old landscape
    fabric that has accumulated just a little organic matter and
    also gets some moisture once in a while. the fabric is covered
    with large rocks. it forms as a base growth that looks like
    a slime mold and then eventually puts up fronts for further
    growth and reproduction. we just cut the fronds off. i think
    if we put wood chips over the base growth we'd smother
    them off easily enough, but we don't really mind them being
    under there.
     
  9. Jason_H

    Jason_H New Member

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    Thanks for the comments everyone, a great way to discuss and learn new things.

    It seems Bracken is not the worst thing to find on a block of land: that would probably would be Blackberry around here. But it still has some negative aspects to it and if I wanted to graze animals (cattle, sheep) on the land then the bracken would need to be removed and replaced with a more conventional and nutritious series of plants. It seems there are several ways to eradicate it and it is probably a multi-year process requiring at least some heavy machinery in terms of a 50 hp tractor and slasher, and/or spray system. So that is a cost that I need to factor into a potential purchase price offer. How long it takes for the soil to rehabilitate and reduce in concentration of the bracken fern allelopathic chemicals is not known but I think nature could take care of this given time.

    Will be taking a closer inspection of the property this weekend, checking for rocky ground, other pests/weed species, and collecting some soil/water samples.
     
  10. Jason_H

    Jason_H New Member

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    Thought I would add a few photos from the site visit. My overall conclusion was: Yes the land could be productive but a lot of work and $$$ to revert back to productive country. And the seller doesnt seem to want to reduce the price by 30% :)

    Edit: images dont seem to work, links as per below:

    Mowed section with bracken and blackberry regrowth
    https://ibb.co/bDfo8R

    Unmowed section with as-is bracken and blackberry growth
    https://ibb.co/bFu4hm

    General view of part of the paddock
    https://ibb.co/jMUy8R

    Another view of the paddock, note clumps of blackberry growth
    https://ibb.co/fwfuhm

    View back up the paddock to the top of the hill
    https://ibb.co/cLGH2m

    Rocky ground and blackberry/bracken throughout paddock
    https://ibb.co/mpqANm

    [​IMG]
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    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017
  11. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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  12. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi Jason, I used the "Full Image" BBCode pasted directly into the post in the "Embed Codes" menu at the bottom of each photo page in your links. Not quite sure why the "Direct Link" doesn't work.
     
  13. Barbara Catfish

    Barbara Catfish New Member

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    I did read that you don't have a slasher but cutting it every few months has worked well here, roughly every three or four months for a year. There are still a few pop up here and there but it definitely weakens them. Obviously it is not feasible over 50 acres at once but here we just target an achievable area, we use slasher over larger spaces but scythe, brush hook, whipper snipper all work well in steeper areas where we wish to transition to something more productive or under electric fences etc..

    I just had to look up where you are because the picture of blackberries and bracken in front of scrub could be taken at my place. LOL
     

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