We were recently invited by the Arboricultural Association to demonstrate the use of an Air Spade as part of the first UK Conference for Arb Students held at Merrist Wood College. We were delighted to attend the conference and it was good to be able to interact with students and pass on some of our experience and knowledge in how this tool can be used to work around the roots of trees.
We set up under the spread of a large old Oak tree and using the Air Spade we carefully exposed several large buttress roots as well as a network of finer ‘feeder roots’. The practical work was undertaken by Ben Marsh who has just completed his apprenticeship with Four Seasons and has gained a lot of experience with this underused tool.
Company director, Matt Vaughan then delivered a talk to the students explaining how roots can be uncovered using a stream of high velocity air that does virtually no damage to the roots themselves. This can be a great benefit when carrying out groundworks in root protection areas and any ‘No Dig’ situations. The Air Spade can also be used to relieve compaction and aerate soils which can be beneficial on many sites.
Another use of the tool is in the control of Honey Fungus. The stream of air when directed into the top layers of soil will physically break the rhyzomorphs (boot laces) of Honey Fungus whilst leaving the more pliable tree roots largely undamaged.
All in all it was a great day out and we enjoyed talking with the students and other exhibitors at the college.