Action

Control bracken

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Source countries

Key messages

  • One systematic review found that the herbicide asulam reduced bracken abundance if applied repeatedly, but cutting may be equally effective.
  • A replicated laboratory trial in the UK found that the herbicide asulam inhibited the growth of three common moss species that commonly grow in association with bracken, when exposed over three weeks, but not if only exposed for 24 hours.

 

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A laboratory study in the UK (Rowntree et al. 2005) found that growth and development of three moss species were significantly inhibited by continuous exposure to the herbicide asulam over three weeks, but not by 24-hour exposure. The three moss species are widely distributed in the UK and frequently grow in association with bracken Pteridium aquilinum, so they are likely to be exposed when bracken is controlled using asulam. Campylopus introflexus was the least sensitive species tested and Polytrichum formosum the most sensitive, with a 10-fold difference in sensitivity between the two. The sensitivity of Bryum rubens lay between the two but was closer to that of C. introflexus than P. formosum. Mosses were exposed in sterile cultures to low concentrations (0.001-1 g/l) of the herbicide asulam for 24 hours or continuously, and their growth measured over three weeks.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A systematic review of methods to control bracken (Stewart et al. 2005) found that the herbicide asulam reduces bracken abundance but regeneration can be rapid and multiple applications are necessary. Complete eradication has not been demonstrated. Available evidence suggests cutting may be as effective as asulam application, particularly if there are two cuts in the same growing season. Further research is needed to compare the effectiveness of different ways of applying asulam and to compare cutting and asulam. There was not robust experimental evidence on the effectiveness of rolling, burning or grazing to control bracken. The review examined the effectiveness of using the herbicide asulam, cutting, hand-pulling, rolling, livestock grazing and burning to control bracken.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Dicks, L.V., Ashpole, J.E., Dänhardt, J., James, K., Jönsson, A., Randall, N., Showler, D.A., Smith, R.K., Turpie, S., Williams D.R. & Sutherland, W.J. (2018) Farmland Conservation Pages 245-284 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2018. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.

 

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Farmland Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Farmland Conservation
What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation assesses the research looking at whether interventions are beneficial or not. It is based on summarised evidence in synopses, on topics such as amphibians, bats, biodiversity in European farmland, and control of freshwater invasive species. More are available and in progress.

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