How to reduce the impacts of a wet winter on my property
Pasture & soil condition can deteriorate rapidly in the winter period. This is the real world and like it or not, moisture overload will happen and high stock concentrations such as break feeding is commonplace to manage feed effectively.
This concentrated feeding results in extensive pugging, meanwhile wheel ruts from feeding out and other winter chores result in uneven surfaces being commonplace.
The effects of soil compaction/ pugging are wide-ranging, affecting not only soil matter and plant health but can also impact the wider environment.
Source: MDC Technical Report No: 12-012
Compaction and pugging affect the soil condition and therefore influence’s the supply of air, water and nutrients to the roots.
Source: Australian Journal of Soil Research
How to overcome pugged pasture & soil compaction
How to take care of damaged pasture can be an unsurmountable task without the right tools and resources to manage this properly. While cultivating and sowing new pastures may seem like the only option, the reality of the contractor’s bill can create that fear of bank balance scuba dive.
Critical visual assessment with the help of a puggology chart will show that pasture harrows and a roller may be the only tools you need to bring the situation under control.
Both the conventional Chain harrows and the trusty roller are largely underestimated and making a huge comeback in today’s farming. When there is still some grass showing and the pugging just tolerable, using chain harrows is incredibly efficient and can be done with relative ease.
Mechanical loosening of soil (also called rejuvenation or aeration) can also be effective in offsetting the effects of compaction/ pugging.
Source: Drewry, et al., 2000; Burgess et al., 2000
When it’s wet, it is hard to get on the paddocks, but when possible a heavy flat roller is a farmer’s best friend, doing further levelling and also compacting evenly to allow even pasture regrowth on a flat surface.
When is the best time to plant grass seed – can I do this when fixing pugged paddocks?
Sowing pasture and harrowing have gone hand in hand for decades. The nitrogen from cow manure being realised, by spreading evenly, improves germination. Rolling after harrowing generally optimises seed germination but may be best to avoid using a roller to avoid potential ‘glazing’ in wet heavy clay soils. In most cases, a covering harrow will allow enough seed to soil contact for effective seed germination.
What are the benefits of harrowing my pasture?
Studies by research agencies have reported that following soil aeration there is an increase in pasture yield by approximately 10-15%. Equate that to bottom line profit and a reduction of feed out costs of similar proportions then it will make the harrow investment a no-brainer.
By using the right chain harrow you can achieve aeration, levelling and even releasing of nitrogen into the soil.