The Grass People brings you a specialist Equestrian Technical Guide, looking at Paddock Management and paddock reseeding
Guide to Paddock Management
Splitting your acres into smaller areas and rotating will help keep your pastures in better condition.
Horses are selective grazers. They won’t eat everything and there will be unpalatable areas and well worn areas, such as gate exits.
Remove faeces as often as possible to prevent pastures becoming ‘horse sick’ and to aid parasite control.
Provide access to natural or man-made shelter at all times, remembering that shade can be as important as protection from wind and rain.
Test soil nutrient levels and pH status every spring and rectify if necessary with fertilizer and/or lime. Avoid grazing horses within 3 weeks of application.
Restrict grazing when pastures are very wet to minimise poaching and reduce risk of mud fever.
Guide to Paddock Reseeding
CHECK SOIL NUTRIENTS
- Target soil pH is 6-7. Phosphate and potash indices should be 2.
- Correct any drainage problems before reseeding, keep ditches clear of plants and debris.
SEEDBED AND SOWING
- Ground should be worked to a fine tilth.
- Soil temperatures should be a minimum 5C degrees before sowing.
- Sow during the growing season (March – September).
- Seed depth should not exceed 15mm (0.6 inch).
- Roll before and after sowing for optimum consolidation.
- Control any emerging weeds at an early stage of development.
- Assess the risk of pests such as wireworm, fruit fly larvae, and leatherjackets and seek professional advice on pesticide use to protect new seedlings.
- Allow sward height to reach 5-6 inches (125 – 150mm) before grazing to ensure a good root system is established.
Seasonal Maintenance Guide
- From March it is a good idea to harrow to remove dead vegetation and aerate the soil.
- Reseed and patch any bare areas.
- Roll the pasture to flatten poached areas only if your land is dry enough and won’t do additional damage. Leave to Summer if wet or clay.
- Tackle weeds and poisonous plants like ragwort, foxglove, rhododendron or yew.
- Continue the weed control.
- Top pasture to remove long stalky areas.
- Hay is cut at this time.
- Continue to be vigilant with weeds.
- A good time to insulate water pipes for the Winter.
- Poached areas can be helped by adding material such as woodchip to access points.
- Choose a well drained pasture for Winter if you can rotate.
- Ensure your horses have constant access to fresh clean water. Break ice daily when freezing.
- February is a good time to look at your soil and check if fertiliser is needed in early Spring.