Bracken is found throughout Northern Ireland, growing on a range of different farm land habitats.
If not controlled, bracken can lead to habitat destruction by blocking light and moisture from getting to the plants that normally grow there.
Bracken infested land is not eligible for area-based payment schemes and can also be a danger to animals and water quality.
CAFRE Biodiversity Technologist Robert Beggs explained: “Over the years, products containing the active ingredient Asulam have commonly been used to control bracken.
“Since 2013 these products have only been available as a result of emergency authorisations each year, to allow for bracken control between specific dates.
“Anyone planning to control bracken in 2021 by using Asulam should be aware that its use is only approved on conservation sites.
“For 2021, Asulam applications can commence on conservation sites from 1 July and must end on 13 September. All remaining unused stocks of Asulam must then be disposed of in the correct manner by 31 October.”
Robert went on to remind those intending to spray bracken on a site designated for its conservation value that NIEA consent is not required if the works have been agreed as part of an Environmental Farming Scheme Agreement (EFS).
If, however, your proposed bracken control is not part of an EFS agreement and is on a site of environmental importance, you must seek approval from NIEA before commencing spraying.
Alternative methods of rolling or cutting for bracken control can succeed but require repeated treatments over several years to be successful.
Robert explained that weed wiping with glyphosate in CAFRE demonstration plots has previously shown good levels of bracken control and can provide an efficient alternative to Asulam in 2021 for many areas not in conservation sites.