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Goats eating giant hogweed

Man vs
Giant Hogweed


When we moved into Balmuirfield House in July 2022 there was already an established infestation of giant hogweed across much of the five acres of woodland and the surrounding land. This invasive species had taken over the land, supressing the native plants and trees and pushing out wildlife. Through a rigorous process of mechanical action and natural chemical free means, we have started to push back this non-native aggressor and have been helped massively by our army of animals, led by hungry goats and flanked by bonnie wee pigs. We have painstakingly removed burnt rubbish, broken glass and copious amounts of plastic from the site.  We are now seeing varieties of fauna and flora coming back to the site. Balmuirfield House is becoming a haven for nature and wildlife once again!

Full details of the project will be documented here, including before and after pictures. You can also contact Richard direct for more information. 

July 2022

Moving into a grade b listed mansion house was one of the most exciting things ever to happen to us.  For years we had wondered what it would be like to own a country pad with extensive grounds to fufil our dream of runing a smallholding.  When an opportunity came to trade up a semi-detatched house in Central Bedfordshire and relocate to the foot of the Angus Glens, there was little stopping us.  There was just one catch to buying Balmuirfield House: how do you go about removing giant hogweed?

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles." Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Ancient Chinese philosophers aside, it's worth giving context and reading a bit more about this plant and why it has been dubbed one of the most dangerous plants in the UK:

There are several articles and studies (and shocking images of giant hogweed burns) which family and friends saw online and they used this to try and put us off, but we were determined that this weed could be removed without the need for harsh, environmental-harming chemicals. The process has been documented with video and pictures and now, nearly two years on, we will be able to show before and after shots.  The seeds and roots are prevalent, however, and each year we are ambushed by small outbreaks across the land.  Currently, several of our goats and sheep are spread out fighting battles across five acres, and our pigs have gone commando in the wild trying to face off an acre of neighbouring land to prevent a spread of seeds pushing back onto areas that have been cleared. 

In August 2023 we invited a member of Dundee council to our land to share our progress. He was amazed.  In particular, he said how impressed he was by how much we had cleared using non-pesticide means.  We are now creating a buffer zone to protect our land from reinfection and are able to support other residents of Dundee and Angus who would like support to help removed giant hogweed from their property. 

It is worth noting that a management plan is in place, a time-consuming one, however you can see a more detailed breakdown, including videos of me explaining and talking about the pitfalls of fighting this invasive weed below.  It should also be noted that this is a growing problem across the UK and not exclusive to Dundee/Angus or the Dighty Burn.  I hope this page will be used as a case study and inspiration for people who find themselve wondering how to defeat this mighty adversary. 

What have we taken on?

Balmuirfield Giant Hogweed Management Map.PNG
The view over our fence (July 2022)
The map on Google still shows aerial shot of house taken in a summer before 2022.  The white dots are giant hogweed flowers (each plant can have 50,000 seeds).

The area in red marked 1 was the first area tackled, a whopping 1.5 acres.  
Area 2 is now a goat paddock and beautiful woodland walk. 
Area 3 is not our land but we had no choice but to manage because the seeds were spreading onto our land (I talk mor about rights as landowner later)
Area 4 is under development in 2024.
Area 5 is also not our area but is about 4 acres.  Our pigs are currently conducting reconnaisance missions in the area and we are supporting them on the ground as they look to ambush the enemy later in the year.
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