Report R034 ***

Problem: Creeping Thistle, Spear Thistle, Ragwort, in long grass
Where: Rawcliffe Meadows, York
When: April / May 2004
Area: 25 acres
Status: Countryside Stewardship
Detail: 8 man days. Chisel Creeping thistle, L-D Spear thistle, Dock, some Ragwort from flood bank

Action taken: 104 man-hours, with chisel hoes & L-Ds.

Assessment: the long grass made work with the Chisel Hoes difficult. The Creeping thistle was well advanced in growth, so finding its base was difficult. Some of this work was done by a workforce of three, but most was carried out by one man, alone.

The maintenance task on this needs a more planned approach, from an energetic workforce nearer to the site.

Cost: £780.+ Vat and Travel.

  • Aims.

Chisel Hoe Creeping especially towards pond end of site, with the aim of beginning long term control, and preventing seeding.

Remove Docks & Spear thistle growing on slopes of the raised flood bank.

    Site Inspection. Late April.

Both creeping thistles and grass were found to be unexpectedly long, which was going to make chiselling below the point of growth hard work. Plant stems were difficult to locate & there was lots of grass to cut through. Docks and Spear thistles were easier to spot, although the long grass once again would hamper visibility.

  • A total of 13 days handwork were worked.

Creeping thistle was chiselled on both sides of the raised bank.

Spear thistle and dock plants were removed.

This work was also done in the area between the bank and the lower path.

Some work was done near / in the meadow by the sluice.

Some docks were piled near the entrance gate, and others found there way back here (in bags), and were composted

No inspection of the site has been carried out since, and no work was attempted on the hog-weed in the little meadow near the entrance. This is winter work, when the ground is wet.

  • Follow-up is an essential part of all control. The general feeling was that the work was hampered by long grass and length of the creeping thistle. Chisel hoe-ing is much more efficient in grazed pastures. Here (Hill Top Farm), we do this work as soon as the sheep have left the pasture, when grass is at its shortest.
  • The control of creeping-thistle using chisel hoes does depend on repeated visits, especially in wet areas, and in the 1st year. A long term plan must be drawn up, if this method of control is to be effective & long lasting. Every effort must be made to piece together a workforce for April 2005, and two passes with the chisel-hoes is recommended.