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Stronger Links Evaluate "Airforce" on Sick Trees

Stronger links between Terrain Aeration and the Arboricultural Advisory and Information Service (AAIS), are set to evaluate the effectiveness of deep, compressed air de-compaction treatment on tree health.

Derek Patch, director of the AAIS since it’s privatisation 10 years ago says that he is happy to work with the company to investigate and try to understand better the tree and it’s problems.

“Terrain Aeration has a particularly interesting technique for treating sickly trees, and the equipment to combat compaction around root systems. We have the ability to analyse tree growth and see if their treatment has any benefits,” he explains. “What we would like is wood samples taken from the trunks of pairs of trees of the same species, similar age and size and growing in similar conditions. One tree will have been treated by the company’s hydraulic terralift machine “Airforce”, and the other won’t. Deliberately forgoing any information from Terrain Aeration we will measure any increase in growth, and determine the year from which this increase occurred.”

Terrain Aeration has already used the AAIS to investigate possible causes of tree sickness during last summer. Called to a client’s dream garden, 10 miles from Kings Lynn in Norfolk, where extensive re-building and landscaping works had been undertaken during last winter’s rains (2002) and this summer’s heat-wave (2003), the company found signs of stress among several trees from the original woodland.

“Wellingtonias, Oak, Thujas and Yews were suffering from poor canopy cover, brown and dying leaves, general die back and poor growth,” remembers David Green, MD for the company. “We took samples from the trees affected, sent them to the AAIS at Alice Holt Lodge, Farnham, in Surrey, to find out (as accurately as possible) the cause or causes of the problem.”

Following the report which suggested a physical change such as soil compaction, root burial due to ground level changes or a change in the micro climate, rather than disease, Terrain Aeration went ahead with treatment in late August after a thunderstorm had delivered some moisture to the ground.

Operating in two rings, one inside and one just outside the drip line, the company used “Airforce” their hydraulic terralift machine to inject compressed air at two metre spacings, to a depth of one metre below the surface. The resulting underground fractures were then injected with dried, milled seaweed, which will swell upon contact with moisture, keeping the fissures open as well as providing nutrients.

During two days, dozens of trees were treated and Terrain Aeration expects a recovery of healthy root growth over the next two growing seasons. Wood samples from these trees, compared with their equivalents from un-treated specimens should either prove them right or wrong.