UKTC Archive

Re: RPA offset for ploughing

Subject: Re: RPA offset for ploughing
From: AV Arboriculture
Date: Aug 13 2019 16:38:25
Thanks Jerry, most enlightening.

Regards,Mike CharkowPrincipal Arboriculturist______________________Arbor 
Vitae Arboriculture LtdPlanning surveys, Tree inspections, Bats in trees 
inspections, Arboricultural consultancy, Soil de-compaction, Root 
Investigation, Woodland 
Registration Number: SC413171

----- Original Message -----
From: Jerry Ross <>
To: UK Tree Care <>
Sent: Mon, 12 Aug 2019 11:14:30 +0100 (BST)
Subject: Re: RPA offset for ploughing

Certainly it can be justified under the right circumstances: it may well 
be reasonable to offset an RPA if the adjacent land has been deeply 
cultivated, as there may not be (m)any roots left there. But you'd need 
to have some insight into how it had been ploughed: how deeply, how 
regularly and also how recently.
Cultivation opens up and aerates the soil, so regular, fairly light 
ploughing (say to no more than 20-30cm) carried out over many years may 
just mean that tree roots have migrated further down, to below ploughing 
depth where they carry on more or less regardless. On the other hand, 
even relatively light ploughing of virgin land will tend to take out a 
higher proportion of significant roots, simply because they are likely 
to have been shallower.
Deeper ploughing, to 50cm or more, has over recent years become more 
frequent simply because the advent of tractors the sizes (and prices) of 
small houses means that operators can slice through roots without even 
noticing them. Old, long-established trees are particularly vulnerable 
as while they may have survived quite happily in and around cultivated 
fields simply because older tractors would have been forced to work 
around them; hence the proliferation of stag-headed oaks in cultivated 
On the other hand, more recently still, no-till or shallow-tillage 
techniques are becoming more widespread, which should work to the 
benefit of trees.

So you need to make a judgement as to whether what's gone on 
historically means that it's now reasonable to consider that land as 
been lost to the treesand so can be taken out of a root protection area. 
You also need to look at whatever is being proposed for the land: if 
tree roots are simply a bit deeper because of cultivation, will the 
development being proposed go deeper and still do damage?

On 12/08/2019 10:19, AV Arboriculture wrote:
Has anyone ever come across instances of reducing a tree's root protection 
area because of ploughing activity? If so, have they been justified, or can 
it be justified?

Mike Charkow

Arbor Vitae Arboriculture Ltd

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