ACC Blog

Work Experience / Employment Offered

A short-term employment opportunity for one person is offered from 15th August 2016 for up to 5 days working for ACC Contracting on a contract site in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Good remuneration offered and would be ideal for construction, agricultural or conservation student looking to gain experience whilst being paid. This work will involve a mixture of small scale construction, groundworks, working with powered plant and manual handling.

Required skills – ability to work outside unaided and unsupervised, honest, hard working, fit, experience of working outside and around powered plant and common sense!

Desirable skills – experience of groundworks, ability to operate small powered plant (5t excavator, 3t dumper, compact tractor, ect), driving licence and own transport.

Please email Matt on matt@acc-contracting.com for more information or to apply.

Please share as much as you’d like!

FOR SALE: Nissen Hut / Hay Barn / Tractor Shed / Covered Storage

Nissen Hut (11.5m long x 5m wide x 4m high). All the structural steel girders are in very good condition with only surface rust. The steel sheets are also in good condition although paint is peeling as shown in photos. It has no leaks that I am aware of. Sold as seen and buyer to dismantle and remove from site. Ideal for use a hay barn / covered storage, et cetera. Located five minutes from Junction 11, M4. Viewing is possible.

Please email matt@acc-contracting.com or call 0782 606 7939 for more information.

SOLD – 01/08/2016

FOR SALE: 6ft / 1.8m Paddock Topper / Mower

6ft / 1.8m wide Condor Offset Grass Topper fitted with Cat 1 and Cat 2 linkage for 3 point linkage on a tractor. Heavy duty gearbox driven model, not a cheap belt driven model. Gearbox is is in good working order and doesn’t leak. Bearings have very little play and no noise when under load. Cutting height can be adjusted.

Some cosmetic welding needed to top metal panels, but mechanically and structurally in very solid condition. Welding can be carried out at cost by myself prior to collection or delivery.  Has been used on various tractors from 40hp – 90hp without any issues and would probably fit larger tractor.

Collection from just off Junction 11, M4 or delivery available at cost. Loading assistance with telehandler available

£300.00 ONO. Please contact ACC Contracting on matt@acc-contracting.com or call 0782 606 7939. TRACTOR NOT INCLUDED IN SALE.

SOLD – 01/08/2016

Conservation in the Local Community…

One of my recent contracts has been for the lovely community and conservation minded chaps at Chiltern Rangers in High Wycombe. The MD, John Shaw, contacted me a couple of months ago with a notion of installing a graded track approximately 300m long around Funges Meadow Nature Reserve to allow people of all abilities to benefit from the nature reserve. Some regular readers of my blog (if there are any) may remember I carried out some conservation and habitat enhancement at the reserve back in March, which I blogged about in Funges Meadow Back Stream Enhancement. So I sat down and scratched my head a few times to come up with something that would meet his criteria.

Funges Meadow Aerial
Funges Meadow Nature Reserve from the air in the early 2000’s.

However it wasn’t as easy as it sounded. John wanted to construct something that was in keeping with the wildlife site: it had to be as unobtrusive as possible, easy to maintain and allow mowers to cross it, within a strict budget, environmentally friendly and also be wide enough and level enough to allow wheel chairs, buggies and individuals of all abilities to access all areas of the nature reserve whilst still looking natural. You can see the previous uneven grassy track in the aerial photograph above. So after some serious head scratching, I came up with a plan!

John wanted a perimeter track laid around the pond in the middle of the reserve, with a spur leading off to the dipping platform on the banks of the back stream (adjacent to one of the gravel riffles I installed in March) and another spur leading off to the boardwalk which crosses the back stream on the main pedestrian entrance to the site.

Fortunately the substrate around the reserve is chalk and flint, meaning the ground under the top 150mm of top soil is extremely solid. This was fortunate, as i meant that any shallow excavations took out the 150mm layer of top oil, and presented a nice solid base for the track.

20160524_153610

The terrain within the nature reserve is, well – natural. This meant it was far from level and a little ingenuity had to be employed to ensure that the track blended in, whilst still allowing wheelchair and buggy access on the inclines. Access to the site for HGV’s and heavy plant is also limited, which narrowed the possibilities even more. My final specification for the contract was:

Construct 1,200mm wide, approximately 310m long circular path around pond at above site, including a 1,200mm wide, approximately 30m long spur path leading from the circular path to the dipping platform situated on the bank of the Back Stream within the footprint of the site.

Construct 2,000mm wide, approximately 20m long track leading from road access gates on Bowden Lane to circular path around pond suitable for vehicle access.
Grade the ground and terrain along the footprint of the path sympathetically with 5 ton 360 tracked excavator where needed to allow pedestrian and wheelchair access to all areas of the site via the path.

Paths to be constructed by excavating 150mm deep by 1,200mm wide track along the desired route, laying 1,500mm wide 100GSM weed prevention membrane, backfilled with scalpings aggregate (or similar) with 5 ton 360 tracked excavator and 3 ton 4WD dumper, and compacted with 1.2m wide sit-on vibrating roller. At appropriate locations, paths may be required to be edged with 22mm x 150mm x 3,600mm treated timber, supported by 75mm x 75mm x 1,500mm treated posts to prevent subsidence.

Path to be finished level with adjacent terrain level where possible (excluding ramp areas) to allow mowers to traverse across. Spoil from path excavation to be used for profiling on site as directed by Chiltern Rangers.

I spent a week on site with a small team, using excavator, dumper and roller to create a 1.4m wide, circa 350m long track around the nature reserve which blended into the surrounding terrain, wouldn’t break up under pedestrian and light vehicle use, but which would ‘green up’ to allow the site too look as nature-like as possible. In some areas, the inclines had to be extended with timber edging to keep the track on a suitable gradient. This edging was sunk into the ground to allow John and his team to traverse the track with mowers when they maintain the site through the year.

The excavated spoil was all used on site to create new habitat and variations in the terrain to suit all manner of wildlife. All the heavy plant used on site was the smallest the work could be completed with, and was as environmentally friendly as possible – including being filled with biodegradable fluids. The photos below were taken on the day of completion.

All the Best,

Matt – ACC Contracting

Work Experience / Employment Offered

A short-term employment opportunity for one person is offered between 23rd May 2016 and 27th / 28th May 2016 working for ACC Contracting on a contract site in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Good remuneration offered and would be ideal for construction, agricultural or conservation student looking to gain experience whilst being paid. This work will involve a mixture of small scale construction, groundworks, working with powered plant and manual handling.

Required skills – ability to work outside unaided and unsupervised, honest, hard working, fit, experience of working outside and around powered plant and common sense!

Desirable skills – experience of groundworks, ability to operate small powered plant (5t excavator, 3t dumper, compact tractor, ect), driving licence and own transport.

Please email Matt on matt@acc-contracting.com for more information or to apply.

Position now provisionally filled. Thank you for the interest. Other opportunities will be offered in the future.

Annual Paddock Maintenance

Paddock maintenance isn’t complicated, arduous or particularly hard – it just needs a quick half hour inspection and walk-over around this time of year (early to mid spring). What may look green from your house may well be a bit sparse, muddy and damaged when you get up close and personal with it!

  • Is the ground poached, rutted and damaged?
  • Are there any bare areas devoid of grass?
  • Does any grass that is present look vibrant & healthy?
  • What evidence is there of any weeds (ragwort, buttercup, bramble, dock)?
  • Does the ground look compacted or is it badly churned up in places (usually high traffic areas)?

The following is some simple advice about paddock maintenance and management, and all services I provide. I am happy to negotiate on prices for bulk work requests from one off harrowing, through to rotivating, harrowing, reseeding/feeding and rolling.

Collect horse droppings regularly (preferably every day, particularly if you have a high horse density per paddock). Don’t be tempted to spread them around the paddock by harrowing. I don’t advocate using harrows as a replacement for ‘poo picking’ in horse paddocks – it’s much more beneficial to collect the horse droppings on a daily basis than it is spread it around the paddock on a regular basis, especially at this time of year with the potential to distribute worms around the paddocks.

Book paddocks in for harrowing a minimum of twice a year (spring and autumn) to remove dead thatch and moss from the grass sward, improve grass growth through aeration, reduce compaction caused by horse hooves and help improve surface drainage. Chain harrowing is usually all that is required as it both levels the surface and removes thatch and moss. In some cases, spring tine / weed tine harrowing may also be required if weeds need to be removed, the moss and thatch within the grass sward is particularly thick or reseeding is required. Spring tine harrowing creates the best tithe for seeding, and can usually be combined with feeding / over seeding at the same time to save on cost.

I see people on a mini-tractor or quad bike dragging trailed chain harrows at warp speed 9 and wondering why the harrow is bouncing around and achieving very little. The design of chain harrows goes back hundreds of years to when they were pulled by horses – at a walking pace! I use ‘mounted’ chain harrows as opposed to trailed chain harrows, as extra weight can be used on mounted harrows to get maximum efficiency, unlike trailed harrows. I can also back into awkward corners and level uneven ground a lot more effectively with ‘mounted’ chain harrows than is possible with trailed ones.

Rotate horses around your paddocks. Try to give each paddock a rest for at least three to four weeks per year during the spring and summer. If grass is grazed flat constantly then gradually the grass will become weaker as the roots are not able to recharge their batteries by photosynthesis from the leaves and they may start to die leaving bare patches. These bare patches allow weeds to germinate and take over areas of the paddock, as well as being notoriously compacted and hard in the warmer summer months.

Book paddocks in for fertilisation / feeding. Whilst you don’t want too much or too thick grass in equine paddocks, you are asking a lot of any paddocks that are heavily grazed all the time to keep producing grass. A regular annual fertiliser feed will help maintain a steady growth of grass, and give it that little helping hand it needs.

Regularly inspect the paddocks and treat for weeds as necessary – sometimes it’s just a case of pulling up a few Ragwort plants or docks. Badly infested paddocks are usually the result of overgrazing and winter poaching causing bare patches which weeds then germinate in. The best way to keep weeds at bay is an actively growing and healthy grass sward, but spraying can be required, especially for persistent and stubborn weeds such as bramble, nettle, dock and buttercup.

Poached ground is caused by allowing horses to remain in paddocks that have become too wet and suffer from a lack of drainage (or exceptionally wet weather). This may be due to having no other paddocks to use, ground compaction, or due to the soil substrate. It will be especially noticeable in areas of paddocks that are high traffic areas – gateways, water drinkers, shelters and areas where horses are fed. The easiest way to avoid this is by restricting horse access to wet paddocks (or areas within wet paddocks) or rotating paddocks through the winter. Many people have very limited ground and this may not always be practical or possible.

Rolling has to be carried out at the right time. If rolling is carried out when the ground is too wet, the damage will be made worse and the roller will simply clog up with mud. If rolling is carried out too late, the ground will be too hard for the roller to have any effect. For ground that has been badly damaged and dried, rolling on its own will probably not be sufficient, and treatment with a rotivator or power harrow may be required to level the ground properly. These will level off badly damaged and poached areas that have dried and become too compacted for the harrow to level. Paddocks which have suffered lots of damage through the winter may want over-seeding and then rolling to press in the seed. I would only recommend over-seeding if you can keep horses off the seeded area until the new grass has germinated well. Rolling, by it’s very nature, compacts the ground as well as leveling and pressing in seed unfortunately, which is why there should never be a regime of routine rolling of paddocks. Instead, rolling should be undertaken only when required to keep compaction to a minimum.

If there is already some spring grass growth, then rolling the crowns or seeds of the grass to crush them encourages ‘spreading’ of the grass seeds and so maximises spring growth (effectively doing nature’s work for her). Similarly, if the grass has grown well, topping it with a tractor mounted topper can spread any grass seed which has occurred naturally, as well as taking out any weeds before they germinate.

Hard and compacted ground is predominantly caused by overgrazing or have too many horses per acre. A slitter or aerator can be used behind the tractor to aerate and de-compact the top 150mm – 300mm of ground. This will improve drainage and let air, water and nutrients reach the roots of the grass, improving the spring growth and reducing recovery time. In more severe cases I can use a tractor-mounted subsoiler to reduce compaction, which can be better in gravel or extremely compacted areas, and will improve surface and sub-surface drainage. The sub-soiler can also be used to lay drinker / irrigation pipes into the ground with a minimum of disturbance.

I am happy to provide all the services mentioned above with a compact tractor than can be trailered to sites behind a 4×4, or much larger tractors and equipment that can be driven to sites. Please contact me for quotes and prices – matt@acc-contracting.com or see ACC Contracting Services & Products.

All the Best,

Matt – ACC Contracting

Spring Cleaning Paddocks…

Spring has (just about) sprung in the south and now is the time that I get busy giving grazing paddocks some tender loving care so they can see us through the summer months when the weather (and ground) is dryer. It’s the time of year when harrowing, rolling and seeding / feeding paddocks should be done as you do reap the benefits later in the year and means that the grazing will be plentiful through the summer. As you can see, we suffered from quite a wet winter this year so I shall be undertaking quite a lot of repair work to my own paddocks.

I use both mounted spring tine harrows and mounted chain harrows depending on the condition of the paddocks and what I want to achieve. Depending on which harrow you use (or both), harrowing removes any dead grass and thatch, breaks up the obligatory muddy lumps, smooths out winter hoof marks and gives the grass the best start in the spring without too much competition with the moss and weeds. It also means that those areas that have been badly poached (churned up) by horses gallivanting around get aerated and the divots and hoof marks smoothed to a certain degree.

I see people on a tractor or ATV chain harrowing at warp speed 9 and wondering why the harrow is just bouncing around. The design of chain harrows goes back hundreds of years to when they were pulled by horses – at a walking pace! I don’t advocate using chain harrows as a replacement for ‘poo picking’ in horse paddocks – it’s much more beneficial to collect the horse droppings on a daily basis than it is spread it around the paddock on a regular basis. There are also companies out there who will provide a harrowing service using horses!

Heavy Harrow

There is a fine balance in the ground between being too damp and too dry for rolling, especially when using compact tractor sized rollers which don’t exert as much pressure as large rollers, even when filled with ballast. Rolling will reduce (not eliminate) the uneven ground caused by horse poaching but it will compact the soil rather than aerate the soil so causing water to sit on the top rather than soak away and poaching if you get a sudden spell of wet weather. If there is already some spring grass growth, then rolling the crowns or seeds of the grass to crush them encourages ‘spreading’ of the grass seeds and so maximises spring growth.

If the grass cover is patchy with areas of bare ground through poaching or wet weather, I will always reseed, as the cost is minimal and it can usually be done by hand in horse paddocks. I usually harrow the ground and seed it before rolling, as this helps the seeds to stick in the ground and promote growth. However, the paddock should then be put out of action until the grass has recovered, so it is also a perfect time to spray or treat any emerging weed growth. I usually get the seed delivered by pallet load, which makes transporting it around a lot easier!

I am happy to provide a harrowing and rolling service with a compact tractor than can be trailered to sites behind a 4×4. Please contact me for quotes and prices – matt@acc-contracting.com or see ACC Contracting Services & Products.

All the best,

ACC.