18 Jan 2011:
First moorland event supported by the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership
Today a scrub-munching ‘BioBaler’ tackled gorse on North Hill, near Minehead – for the first moorland management demonstration event to be supported by the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership.
The Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership funded the event with money from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Western Somerset Local Action (WSLA), because scrub control is important in moorland management.
Jason Ball, the Scheme Manager for the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership, says: “Moorland managers could find this BioBaler very handy. We used HLF and WSLA money for the demonstration, so that local farmers and landowners can judge this kit for themselves.”
“This machine can harvest zones of mature scrub. The tallest gorse is difficult to swale safely because it holds very high fuel loads, so the BioBaler might be a good alternative to swaling in some situations. The cut material is baled up, and can be carried off, so that you’re not left with a deep blanket of mulch, which would hold back the return of heather and grass.”
With this Canadian machine a single tractor operator can selectively harvest up to 2 hectares (about 5 acres) of gorse or rhododendron per day. The cleared scrub is automatically rolled into a bale, which can be dried out and used as fuel in a suitable bale-fired boiler.
Moor Heat, who carried out the demonstration, is the first UK company to operate a BioBaler commercially, offering scrub clearance services and plans to install a boiler fuelled by the round bales.
The Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership is collaborative group of organisations, local societies, government agencies and education and voluntary bodies. Partners include West Somerset Community College, The Exmoor Society and Exmoor National Park Authority.
Jason Ball started work for the Partnership on 4 January and is based in offices above the National Park Centre in Dulverton, contact telephone number: 01398 322164.