Bracken control

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn) is often an unwelcome plant that has spread into many of the upland areas of Wales, including the Senni Valley. It is an invasive weed with a detrimental effect on ecosystems. It limits animal and human access, smothers other plants, reduces grazing and may have harmful seeds, but it also has some benefits in certain locations see Soper D. (1996) Bracken: an interdisciplinary issue. Pesticide Outlook 7: 16–20. It is difficult to eradicate and control, but this can be attempted by crushing young shoots, by regular cutting or by chemical treatment.

Crushing: In sensitive areas, a roller can be used to damage young bracken shoots. Plant energy is then used for repair and not growth. When used for several years, bracken disappears. Rollers include the Landbase 'Brackenbruisers'.

Chemical treatment: Micron sell a hand-held sprayer with backpack which may be used for treating small areas of bracken. Larger areas can be sprayed from a quad bike. Helicopter spraying is useful for inaccessible or large areas. Spraying is usually done in August. There are legal and environmental issues to be considered before using restricted but effective chemical sprays to destroy bracken, as they are toxic to other ferns, fish and mosses and their use is regulated. After bracken is killed, steps have to be taken to prevent recurrence. For this reason, a detailed and long-term plan for bracken control is necessary.

Asulam [methyl (4-aminophenyl sulfonyl) carbamate] is the systemic herbicide used most often, in many parts of the world, to kill and control the spread of bracken. It is applied as the water-soluble sodium salt Asulox. It has been approved for large-scale aerial use since 1974. The field application rate is 4400 gai (grams active ingredient) ha–1, equivalent to approx. 100 gai l–1 for aerial spraying. Application with a wetting agent is recommended. These include Actipron.

Page updated 18/12/2018