Thursday, 6 November 2008

Why we like the winter storms

Stormy conditions are unwelcome to most people, especially those connected with farming, fishing, tourism and transport. Over last weekend we experienced some gale force Northerly winds that lashed the Northern shores of Scilly and created quite a lot of swell. This has the effect of ripping seaweed off the rocks under water, which then washes in on the beaches.

We use a lot of seaweed, in the order of 150 tons per year. It is now piled up on Great Bay and we're busy carting it off to be spread on the fields. It's a combination of silage grab and trailers that mean we can do this operation quite efficiently and maximise mechanical assistance.

In the days of old, of course, it was very different - all the island men had at their disposal was horse and cart, pitchforks, and hard labour. This must have been an incredibly time consuming process; to think 2 people can shift 3 tons of seaweed, from beach to field in about 15 minutes, it probably would've taken them all day to do that amount.

Seaweed is a great soil improver that really builds organic matter and bulks up our very light soils. It is sustainable and only costs us the fuel to move it from beach to field. It is put on the fields fresh, spread to about 6 inches thickness and left to rot. After about 8 weeks, assuming there's been some rain, it has rotted to the stage that it is OK to cultivate...simple as that.

Thank goodness for the winter storms...