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Primary treatment of bracken

Primary treatment of bracken is required in the first year of a Bracken Management Programme or Forest Plan on any area of land identified for eradication or control in the Bracken Management Plan or Forest Plan. You should not treat bracken within identified sensitive areas or buffer zones.

Primary treatment of bracken can be carried out by:

  1. Chemical means. This will involve application of an herbicide approved for this purpose when the bracken is at full frond stage. The herbicide may be applied using handheld equipment or a tractor-mounted sprayer, weed wiper or by aerial spraying. Anyone undertaking aerial application of pesticides is obliged to seek consent from Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), the local water authority, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the local authority environmental services, giving the required periods of advance notice.
  2. Mechanical means. For eradication, cut the bracken at least 3 times during the first growing season of the 5-year Bracken Management Programme or Forest Plan. For control, bracken should be whipped early in the growing season to sever the tender young bracken fronds before they are hardened off. The fronds may be cut cleanly by light whips, made from slender hardwood stems or thin metal rods.