The project can offer advice and assistance to crofters whose croft land is located within the Natura 2000 sites, about the land management methods that can be applied on their crofts, which will conserve arable machair, the species it supports; as well underpin the traditional agricultural practices which have been the cornerstone of Gaelic culture on the Isles for generations.

This includes the:

2010 Machair LIFE+ Land Management Options: -

Our aim is to work with individual crofters and townships in the management of the machair through carrying out a number of specific land management practices. These include the traditional binding, stacking and late harvesting of arable crops, shallow cultivations by ploughing or rotovating and the application of seaweed to fertilize crops.

We achieve this through entering into individual management agreements with crofters where we agree to carry out a selection of these management options or the crofter agrees to do these himself where this is not already being done. In 2011 we entered into just under 40 agreements with crofters across the island. This resulted in many tangible benefits to the machair including the spreading of over 90 hectares of seaweed across cropped machair with a corresponding reduction in the application of inorganic fertiliser or in some cases a complete cessation for the first time in twenty years.

To encourage uptake of some of these options, particularly where there is risk involved to the crofter in terms of crop quality or quantity we are offering an affiliated payment or provision of additional fodder to off-set this risk. We are also offering payment for the stacking of arable crops, where this is not already being paid for under SRDP or the RSPB Corn bunting scheme.

The project has acquired machinery to carry out most of these operations which will be operated by project staff. We are also working with local contractors to carry out works where we lack capacity, in particular for the mowing and baling of arable silage.

Our aim is to demonstrate the results of works carried out on the ground and we will be running events at the appropriate time of year to look at crop quality and biodiversity benefits of these management works.

If you would like to enter into an agreement with the project for any of the above works in 2012 please get in touch with us.

The project is coordinating an arable crop protection scheme through the mitigation of crop damage by geese. We are able to offer advice on the protection of arable crops and have a limited number of temporary fencing materials such as stakes and tape which can be issued to fence off vulnerable standing crops. We also have an assembledge of kites, rockets and rope bangers to deter geese from landing on or near standing crops. The project will be coordinating goose scarers across the Uists and Tiree between August and October.

If you require crop protection or goose deterrent equipment please get in touch with the project.

Uist Goose Scaring Co-ordinator Rory MacGillivray can be contacted on 07879443518, Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The hyperlinks below will direct you to websites of manufacturers of goose scaring equipment.

The Conserving Scottish Machair Life+ Project, Uist Greylag Goose Management Scheme document can bedownloaded here

(please note that links on the Conserving Machair LIFE+ Project website will lead to other websites which are not under our control. We are not responsible for the content of any linked site. Listing and linking should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind and we accept no liability in respect of the content. While we will endeavour to keep links up to date, we cannot guarantee that these links will work all of the time and have no control over the availability of the linked pages)

Goose Scaring Progress

Feedback and experience from last year has enabled the project to devise a series of “Best Practice Guidelines” - provided below.

Due to the pro-active scaring methods deployed last year, no crop damage has been recorded when the “Best Practice Guidelines” are in place.

To date over 16km of fencing has been distributed, as well as 50 specialist goose scaring kites and a range of targeted bird scaring fireworks.

Crop Protection - Best Practice Guidelines

Ensure vigilance at all times, especially during wet and/or windy days when there is little or no machair activity (this is when the crop is at its most risk from goose damage)

Erect simple scarecrows or move vehicles/trailers to perimeter of crop

Erect temporary fencing along the exposed crop edges, similar to electric fencing, consisting of poles or posts approx 1 – 1.5 m high with 2 strands of wire/tape. (It is important that the fencing is within 0.5m of the crop to eliminate the opportunity of geese being able to hop over between fence and crop. Any form of tape/string/wire seems to work well. It seems to make little difference whether fencing is “electrified” or not)

Kites flying on 7.00m poles, resembling birds of prey, or bright multi-coloured kites should be placed near the crop area.

Vary the position of all the above items, and move them around every 3 – 4 days. This prevents geese becoming familiar with the layout and the deterrents losing their effectiveness.

If the above methods fail to work, project employed scarers can assist using additional methods, e.g. firework rockets, and bangers. If all above methods do not work, lethal scaring is then deployed.

Crofters and scarers working together in partnership is far more effective than either working alone.

The project has a range of machinery at our disposal which is used to help realise our objectives. The current inventory is as follows:

Class Arion 410 tractor
This is the project tractor, it is rated at 95hp and ‘boosts’ to 105hp in both high ranges and also when the PTO is in operation. The tractor is fitted with wide low profile tyres (540/65R38 Rear: 440/65R28 Front) these tyres are specifically designed to give a large footprint thus reducing the compaction. The tractor is also fitted with a front end loader which is used for gathering the seaweed and putting it in the trailer/spreader.

Marston Trailer
This 8 tonne grain type trailer is utilised to transport seaweed from the shore to the stockpiles. It is fitted with wide tyres which help to minimise compaction.

Marshall Vesuvius Vantage
The Vesuvius is a 9 tonne rated rear discharge spreader which is used for spreading seaweed on ground which is to be cultivated.

Overrum 3 Furrow Reversible Plough
This is a modern plough with hydraulic adjustments which is capable of carrying out shallow ploughing; the plough is fitted with mouldboards which allow wide tractor tyres to be used.

Reco Maschio Rotavator
The alternative to the traditional plough is the rotavator our one is 2.5 Metres wide with a packer roller to create a seedbed.

Tulip Disk Cultivator
Disk harrows which can be used to create a finer seedbed where required and also in certain soils be used as a method of direct cultivation.

Dal-Bo Cambridge Rollers
These are 4.5 metre wide Cambridge rollers. Cambridge rollers help prevent capping and improve water infiltration which can be beneficial in reducing wind erosion.

Reaper Binder
A Modern original sourced from Alvan Blanch. The Machair life reaper binder is a modern day take on the traditional reaper binders which eliminates the need for canvases and has easily sourced parts which is a significant problem with the traditional binders as they become rarer.

Seed Drier
The seed drier is used to reduce seed moisture content to the recommended levels for seed storage this helps prevent the likelihood of seed becoming mouldy during storage.