Monday, 23 August 2010

Cutting your hedge

When I taught a course on multiple-criteria decisions, I used the frequency of hedge cutting as an example of conflicting objectives. Should you cut the farm hedges each year, or every two years, or every three years? The more often you cut, the more it costs, but each cut costs less. And hedge-cutting around a farm happens close to harvest time, so there are other annual tasks to schedule. The location of the hedge also matters. Those by tracks need more frequent trimming than others.

Visiting Old Walls Hydro reminded me of these, because the site has just achieved a high standard of conservation, and one requirement is that hedges are trimmed every three years. But there is a complication which I had overlooked in my course. In three years, some hedgerow trees get so large that a sapling in year 0 is a substantial tree in year 3. Should you trim that tree? Or allow it to grow to be a tree?

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