PADDOCK MAINTENANCE - PART 1- Improve your grazing this Spring

What do you need to do to look after your paddocks this spring?
Here are a few suggestions to keep you busy over the comming weeks.

 PART 1 
The past winter and current weather would suggest that our paddocks will need serious attention. Hopefully the spring weather is just around the corner which will provide us all with the opportunity to examine our pasture and to address any areas which will compromise the grazing qualities for the summer.

standing water
Regular and thorough poo-picking must be carried out all the year round, daily if possible or weekly at least. This not only ensures full utilization of any pasture but helps to control worm infestation in the soil. The exercise also gives you the benefit of observing your horse at leisure, checking out rabbit holes, being aware of any  fence repairs, monitoring badly poached areas and walking the dog!

Heavily weeded patches need to be identified and watched for activity, meaning when they start to grow is the time to attack them with sprays or dig them out. Not all weeds are dangerous to the horse, however some do have a suffocating habit, such as dandelions, buttercups, plantain and ground sorrel, which eventually will choke any grasses.

We strongly recommend learning how to indentify weeds, grasses and of course ragwort in its early stages. ( Identify and know flowers that will harm your horse Read more) 
This winter has been long and wet and therefore the paddocks might be poached and will need to be treated for continued goodness and usefulness.

Soil analysis
 
The first step should be a soil analysis of the pasture to check out which nutrients are lacking that will compromise the growth and quality of grass. There are generally two types of analysis available - the first is the basic test which shows the pH balance, this is the acid and alkaline content, phosphate, potash and magnesium levels. The more advanced test is for the animal health analysis, which tests for the mineral content. Both are critical to the expected growth potential of the soil.
There are do-it-yourself kits available - however, the advantages of professional tests are that the pros can also advise on the correct fertilizer and treatment needed to rectify the problem in the most cost effective way.

Harrowing
This treatment allows air into the soil, particularly compacted areas, pulls out dead grass, levels bumps and lumps and will remove shallow rooted weeds.

Rolling
Used in conjunction with harrowing, rolling will ensure a more level surface in badly poached areas. However. only roll when ground conditions are not too wet and not too dry. If too wet, rolling can make the area compacted which will slow any grass growth and if too dry, no real benefit occurs.

Part 2 Looking after your grassland Spraying, Topping
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