MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

Funding opportunities, news and guidance from RKE at Manchester Metropolitan University

Monitoring of Bracken Control Methods and their Impact on the Historic Environment

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Bracken rhizomes have been shown to be detrimental to buried archaeological deposits. Bracken fronds also obscure the visibility of many archaeological sites for much of the year, limiting opportunities for public and academic understanding. This project will continue and extend on-going research into the effectiveness and archaeological impact of a variety of mechanical and chemical bracken controls. The project will be run in conjunction with current efforts, supported by other Government Agencies, to evaluate chemical treatments for bracken control and will incorporate monitoring of the effectiveness of the treatments in controlling bracken, and the ecological and archaeological impacts of the treatments. The treatments being evaluated will include cutting, bashing, feeding cattle on the bracken beds, liming, treatment with chemicals Asulam, Amidosulfuron and new sulfonyl urea ‘Sulfuron Alpha’. The research will take place on Ingram and Fawdon farms in Northumberland and Challacombe Farm in Devon. Ingram Farm is an organic farm and has been the site for on-going research into mechanical and grazing controls for bracken, this will continue in the proposed project. Neighbouring Fawdon Farm offers the opportunity to evaluate chemical controls under very similar topographic and environmental conditions. Challacombe Farm will provide the opportunity to evaluate both chemical and mechanical controls in a different region where bracken is also a major issue. Historic England funding will pay for mechanical controls through section 17 management agreements with the land managers, archaeological monitoring, aerial survey on all sites, and ecological monitoring at Ingram will be undertaken by independent contractor(s) funded directly by Historic England. Chemical controls and ecological monitoring at Fawdon and Challacombe Farms will be undertaken as part of the sister project to assemble evidence for effective, selective chemical treatments for bracken control and will not be Historic England funded.

Deadline for proposals: 23 February

Funding available: £40,000–£60,000

For more information, please contact


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