[NAFEX] mowing orchards

Clifford Cain - uk yahoo cc_syorks at yahoo.co.uk
Mon Aug 25 17:48:06 EDT 2008

Sorry the links do not work, they where of the documents location
The organisation that funded the program was WRAP (Waste Resources 
Action Programme) whose home page is http://www.wrap.org.uk. Typing 
apples and Remade (the organisation that collected the data) in WRAP's 
search tool provides a list of 11 pdf documents on the programmes. The 
most poignant document is entitled Case_study_Kent_Orchard modified 
August 2008 and the précis below is mainly based on that document.

The programme was designed to find a use for composted green waste from 
domestic garden collections. Growers had been using straw as a mulch for 
young trees but not on mature trees. Some has swapped from straw to 
composted green waste and seen improvements in their young tree growth 
and wondered it there would be a benefit to mature trees. The programme 
started in 2004, then extended in 2006/07. Various growers in the Kent 
and Medway (in South East England, the county's main fruit growing area) 
where involved with the trial. The upshot of the trial was that yield 
was increased by almost 50% (some variance by cultivar) with improved 
fruit size and associated profit.
The trials where conducted on Cox & Braeburn in the main, though other 
cultivars where tested. In 2006/07 trees where mulched with composted 
green waste 1m wide to a depth of 10cm. The control trees had a straw 
mulch applied in 2004.
In June 2007 the leaves of the mulched trees showed darker colour.
At harvest time, the numbers of apples per tree increased by 45.6% and 
35% respectively for the Braeburn and Cox varieties compared to the 
control plots.
Fruit weight per tree for the Braeburn apples rose from 20.8kg (20.8 
tonne/acre (t/ac) to 30.9kg per tree (30.9t/ac), generating an extra 
profit of £5,252 per acre.
For the Cox apples, fruit weight per tree increased by 49.5%, taking the 
weight of the fruit up from 9.7kg (9.7 t/ac) to 14.5kg (14.5 t/ac). At 
1,000 trees per acre, this equated to 4,800kg per acre, generating extra 
fruit worth £2,784 per acre.
Although these yields were taken from part of the orchard, they were 
consistent with typical UK orchard yields at 10.5t/ac for Cox and 
18.2t/ac for Braeburn. Moisture analysis of the top 30cm of soil, showed 
that the previously straw mulched soil was drying out, whereas the 
mulched soil retained its moisture and this is believed to account for 
the increase in yield, combined with the availability of K, Ca, Mg, P 
and N from the compost mulch.
The composted green waste lasted for 2 years, compared to the single 
year of straw, nor did it pose a fire risk.
One fruit grower planted Braeburn and Jazz in the autumn/winter of 2006 
and mulched with composted green waste in 2007. Whilst last year was 
wet, the compost still conserved moisture under the mulch layer, leading 
to an increase of 31% in apple numbers and a 5.7% increase in average 
fruit weight. The increase in the weight of fruit per tree was 36% – 
3.8kg per tree for mulched Braeburn trees compared to 2.8kg for ones 
without mulch.

So if you can get your hands on some green waste, may prove useful.

Hope that helps


Clifford Cain
Bawtry, Doncaster UK

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