Reed Quality Meeting with The ITS

Reed Quality Meeting with The ITS

At the end of October last year, we attended a meeting in Aarhus Denmark with our European counterparts of the International Thatching Society. Nigel Turton, our Chairman is President of the ITS and was accompanied by Andrew Raffle, also a board member of the society.

The meeting is part of our ongoing research into the quality testing of materials. Scientists across Europe have been looking into the causes of decay in thatching materials with a view to determining the quality of the materials available for thatching. By understanding what makes good material we can help and encourage the improvement of poorer production sites.

Part of this process is the understanding of how reeds grow. Hans Brix – Genetic diversity physiologist at Aarhus University having achieved PhD studying reed. He delivered a very interesting lecture about the history and science of reed, Phragmites Australis. He explained that this was the earlier name for the plant which became known as P. Communis and has now reverted to P.Australis.

We visited the Aarhus University research campus at Trige – their reed bank where we saw 250 genomes of phragmites Australis (The genome of an organism is the whole of its hereditary information encoded in its DNA). In years to come maybe we will be able to stock a new reed bed with the best plants for the conditions.

The tour continued with a visit to a reed bed on the Grund Fjord near Mellerup and see what will be cut in the following months. We were taken to visit one of Denmark’s larger reed dealer Carlos Christiansen, a reed supplier, farmer of 9 generations and thatcher of 5 generations.  In the fading light we went to visit his nearby home, a contemporary new build influenced in design by a Viking ship.

On return to the hotel our meeting continued late into the evening to finish the rest of the ITS business.