Dr Andy Scarlett, Scarlett Research Ltd - Machinery for Harvesting & Processing Straw for Thatching
The production of cereal straw for thatching is a small but vitally important industry in the UK. The continued availability of good-quality thatching straw is an essential requirement for the maintenance of many listed and historic buildings. Thatching straw growers face many challenges, a significant one being the reliance on old, inefficient or unreliable harvesting & processing machinery.
In early-2023 Scarlett Research Ltd was commissioned by Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland to investigate and identify appropriate mechanisation solutions, and associated equipment, to make the harvesting of thatching straw a more efficient, safer, less labour-intensive and, ultimately, a more financially viable activity. Work is ongoing, but here Andy will report on the machinery-related issues currently experienced by UK thatching straw growers and outline possible options for mechanisation improvements.