Poundbury revisited by Terrain Aeration

During 2020, Terrain Aeration undertook significant work on the green space at Poundbury, Dorchester.

Situated on Duchy of Cornwall land, the area saw the planting of over 400 trees and 26,000 shrubs and hedging plants.

Photo: 2020

This was very much a part of Poundbury’s ongoing Great Field development. The project began in 2014 with the building of sports pitches, an outdoor gym, a multi-use games area and the planting of wildflower meadows.

The Duchy worked with the People Need Nature charity and local seed supplier, Heritage Seeds, to sow another wildflower meadow in 2020. However, unusually dry periods and exceptionally wet conditions left the new area with problems of compaction and waterlogging. It meant ground conditions had to be improved before any planting and establishment of shrubs, hedging and trees could be done. The meadow had also got off to a slow start.

Deep aeration specialists Terrain Aeration were called upon to relieve the compaction and panning on the top half of the field.

They brought in their Terralift machines, which work on the principle of hammering a hollow probe one metre deep into the soil, using a JCB road breaker gun; the soil is compact at depth and requires the hammer to break through.

At one metre depth, a hydraulic blast of compressed air is released at up to 20Bar (280psi). This fractures the soil, creating fissures. The process is repeated at two-metre intervals on a grid pattern with the fissures interlinking to create a system of aeration and drainage. The Terralift is the only machine which uses such high pressure to enable the process to work.

Photo: 2023

On the tail end of the blast, dried seaweed is injected and this sticks to the walls of the fissures, expanding and contracting with the moisture content in the soil. The probe holes are backfilled with aggregate to maintain the aeration process.

In July 2023, Terrain Aeration revisited Poundbury to see how the Great Field meadows were faring. They found a flourishing panorama of colourful meadows, maturing trees and hedges.

The wildflower seed was collected from existing meadows in Purbeck with the local sourcing helping to protect local populations of wildflowers. Ladies’ and Hedge bedstraw, common knapweed, Quaking-grass, Bird’s-foot Trefoil and Kidney Vetch are among the many meadow flowers growing along with Viper’s bugloss in the new field.

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