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A Tale of Two Species

Two different species of veteran English trees have undergone compressed air de-compaction treatment in order to improve their health.

David Hardie, Woodland Manager at Woburn Abbey called in Suffolk based Terrain Aeration following signs of stress on some of the thousand 100 – 600 year old Oaks, on the estate.

“We’ve got a problem with Oak decline in the park,” he says. “Because it’s a deer park, compaction could be one of the factors along with pollution, drought stress (caused by climatic changes) and pests. At the moment, prior to setting up a survey, we have no way of knowing, and we thought we would trial this method and see if it made any difference.”

David Green, Terrain Aeration’s MD used the company’s hydraulic terralift machine “Airforce” to inject compressed air through a one metre probe, once around the canopy drip line, and once again, one metre outside the canopy spread of two suffering trees. Work was delayed around the first Oak due to unexpected findings below ground.

“ We hit a heavy clay layer 30 inches (750 mms) beneath the sandy top soil which frequently blocked the probe and stopped the flow of compressed air into the ground,” remembers David, “work continued despite this minor irritation.”

Having recorded both oaks on video, (which will help Woburn Abbey staff to monitor progress), Terrain Aeration turned their attention to a mature Walnut, which Kettering Borough Council were keen to protect.

Peter Harris, Landscape and Arboricultural Officer for the borough says that the tree, once part of an old rectory garden, has been subjected to the upheaval of new development within the grounds.

“The present developers agreed to carry out some substrate de-compaction on completion of construction,” he explains. “The original agreement also provided for nutrient injection.”

The 150-year-old Walnut, now alongside a new access road, opposite a gravel car park, and next to new houses, is situated on the builder’s old site compound. David Green, again using “Airforce” the company’s hydraulic terralift machine, repeated the deep aeration process performed at Woburn, but this time injected Mycorrhizal Fungi with the final air blast.

All the trees treated were suffering poor leaf growth and dead limbs. Their recovery is not guaranteed and it will be 12 months before progress, or lack of it can be assessed.
In the meantime perhaps we should take comfort from the Woburn Abbey staff when they say that, “trees survive a lot longer in conditions that we would have thought impossible.”