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Chris Galley

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Tuesday 22 September – topping

This is the time to top the fields.

A lot of my land is subject to infestation by rushes, and yes that’s the correct term for it. Rushes, reeds and tussocks can be bad news since over time they will take over a field and reduce grazing options for the sheep. And if there were no sheep or cattle the rushes would take over completely. Some people think that would be good for the environment but it truly is not. The biodiversity quickly telescopes down to zilch – and I’ve seen that happen in parts of Arthur’s Pass, New Zealand, where the sheep have been taken away from upland pastures. The general advice is not to let any field have more than about 30% rush cover, otherwise you’ll get the equivalent of a moonscape. On the other hand you can’t top too soon or you risk destroying habitats of birds like snipe and black grouse (both of which seem to have had a good year) and also hares.

Though it doesn’t really look it in this picture, the tractor is actually at an enormous angle, there’s quite a slope on this field and it’s a wonder it doesn’t topple over. Compare the front with the back!

One of John Deere's finest, a 6430

One of John Deere's finest, a 6430

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