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WATCH: Barley bales and dung heaps make Thurso a better place


By David G Scott

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A community activist is helping improve the look of Thurso with a little help from a local farmer.

Alexander Glasgow wants to keep Thurso boating pond free from algal blooms with bales of barley straw and also received a supply of dung from Mount Pleasant farm to help with the rose beds he tends to in the town centre.

Thurso community activist Alexander Glasgow holds his nose after receiving a supply of dung for the roses he tends to in the town centre.
Thurso community activist Alexander Glasgow holds his nose after receiving a supply of dung for the roses he tends to in the town centre.

Mr Glasgow said: "There have been several algal blooms on Thurso boating pond in recent years. Although not all are harmful, they are unsightly, especially in amenity ponds.

"Rather than responding reactively with potentially corrosive chemical intervention or costly mechanical removal, a proactive and ecologically gentle method is barley straw."

He was delighted to receive a donation of two 6x4 bales from Mount Pleasant farm which were dropped in both ends of the boating pond by a tractor. Pentland Model Boat Club members often sail their models on a Sunday lunchtime but had been unable to use the pond because there was so much algae.

A barley straw bale sits in Thurso's boating pond. Picture: A Glasgow
A barley straw bale sits in Thurso's boating pond. Picture: A Glasgow

"As it decomposes, various chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide are released," said Mr Glasgow. "These are concentrated enough to affect the primitive algae but not higher flora and fauna. The bales may even attract aquatic life."

He says that the barley straw acts as an "algaestat rather than algaecide" and will not kill existing algae but helps inhibit new growth. It was vital to the operation to deposit the bales before any bloom arrives.

The bales may, at some point, be weighed down with heavy stones and wire to help keep them in place. One was put right in the middle of a mat of algae so it can be monitored to determine when it starts to have an effect.

Alexander tends the rose beds at Olrig Street in Thurso. Picture: DGS
Alexander tends the rose beds at Olrig Street in Thurso. Picture: DGS

Plastic mesh on the bales was also removed to help the straw disperse over the season. "I did so not least because it would have trapped flocks of birds surer than any number of mask straps."

"The boating pond and Mall Walk have long been under-maintained," claims Mr Glasgow. "The trees on the crannogs in the boating pond, for instance, are lopsided because it's too crowded and the earth is too shallow for their root systems."

The community activist with his faithful gnome friends who frequently accompany him on work outings. Picture: DGS
The community activist with his faithful gnome friends who frequently accompany him on work outings. Picture: DGS

He says it is an opportunity for all stakeholders in the community to "make a positive change to the social value".

Mr Glasgow also received two tons of dung from the farm to help feed the roses he maintains at Olrig Street and Riverside Road. He sent thanks to Andrew Mackay from West Greenland Contracting of Castletown for the bales and dung.

Always eager to update the paper on the activities of the gnomes that accompany him during the rose bed activities, he added: "There are fisher gnomes but I am unaware of any aquatic species of gnome."

Gnome-loving Thurso activist says 'adopt a rose'


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