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Replanting Horse Pasture, and a Hay Field- Fukuoka-Style?  RSS feed

 
Travis Philp
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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I have 6 horses in a paddock, who are restricted to a narrow track on the outside perimeter of the paddock. This is commonly called a 'paddock paradise'. The horse "track" is in a figure-eight pattern, and has been worn/eaten down to bare soil. The two inside circles of the figure eight are covered in vegetation but it's vegetation that the horses don't really like. I think it's mostly a type of sedge.

The soil is a medium-heavy dark loam, on a moderate hillside sloping to the northeast. It stays wet until late spring when the humidity drops and temperatures rise. I think the soils fertility is good because of the good general plant growth, the horse shit deposits, and the random volunteer corns plant that came up and grew really well. I'm in zone 5 b.

So I want to try replanting at least one of the circles inside the figure eight and am looking for plants that are high-starch, (low-sugar and low protein) fast growing forage plants suitable for horses that are ideally perennial. This could include trees as well, though any tree I know of has leaves with high protein. Any suggestions?

I envision that I broadcast the seeds in the early spring, then cover with about an inch or two of old hay. Do you think this would work? If not, how would you go about it?

As for the second question about the hay field replanting...I have two other fields that are majoring in goldenrod. Assuming that goldenrod can't be cut, baled, and stored like hay...how do I go about eliminating the goldenrod and replanting with a hay mixture? The soil in one field is really fertile. I planted spanish onions using no fertilizer or manure, just a covering of hay mulch, and got a really nice crop. The second field is more sandy, and depleted so I think I need to cover crop it for a year before planting hay.

My idea is to hire someone to tractor-mow the goldenrod when it starts producing flower buds in late summer, then plant a smothering cover crop of annual rye, and/or buckwheat and/or field peas. There wouldn't be enough time for the cover crop to go to seed so it'd die out. Then in the early spring I would seed the hay mixture, and then scythe any goldenrod or other unwanted plants until the hay mix can fend for itself. How does this sound? Any other ideas?

Damn, why couldn't I have thought of these questions when Toby was around!


Thanks for any input folks.
 
George Collins
Posts: 88
Location: South Central Mississippi
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We have hay fields and cow pastures in very close proximity to one another. Goldenrod is a frequent nuisance in the cow pasture. However, in the hay field, I don't recall ever seeing any at all. That is to say that I believe mowing might be AN answer.

And if you could bale it, you might be able to use it for other permaculturally minded stuff.

Until this year, for the past several years, each fall I have taken my kids into the woods that are part of our cow pasture where we construct and camp in debris huts. Goldenrods make a wonderful base layer for thatching the roof.
 
Travis Philp
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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The fields with loads of goldenrod are (from what the neighbor tells me) used to be planted in hay and/or cereal crops years ago. The goldenrod slowly started taking over, and now it's dominant.

I'm excited at the possibility that these fields could be stand-alone horse feed, suitable for cutting and baling. My research shows me that it is a digestive aid for horses, though I'm not sure if too much is a bad thing. I've emailed a horse herb company who listed that info, to ask their opinion on the matter. In one of the fields there's also blue vervain, boneset, and st. johns wart, which are all medicinally beneficial.

What other 'permaculturally minded stuff' are you referring to George? Anything specific other than the thatched roof idea?
 
Kari Gunnlaugsson
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Interesting topic, I probably have more questions than answers for you, but I'll throw a few ideas out...

I did a bit of a search on 'paddock paradise'. It looks like an interesting idea for some situations. If I understand right you have the horses fenced on the figure 8 and are feeding them from slow feeders, while the center circles are ungrazed? I would try to ID the plant in the center, perhaps it is more palatable at certain times of the year or may have value as hay. A nice healthy stand of something (perhaps native?) might be better than causing a disturbance and creating an opening for weeds..?

Regarding the hay fields... I don't have experience with goldenrod as a weed, but I do have other experience with other rhizomatous perennials and I'm doubtful that a single mowing will knock it back enough that a smother crop will knock it out. Especially with broadcasting onto existing pasture, as I think you might not get that heavy a germination. Your right about mowing before it goes to seed, I just think it might take a couple years.

I'm not sure how many acres you're talking about or if you would be willing to introduce other complementary grazing species to the system. I think the best approach to rejuvenating old pastures and changing plant community composition is to use a well thought out multi-species rotational grazing system...you can favour some plants, discourage others, cycle nutrients and spread manure, use different species to direct grazing pressure on different plants at different points in their life cycle, break up parasite cycles between the grazer species...and you could plan some intensive grazing bursts to prepare an area for more successful broadcast seeding.... i'd get a good electric fence energizer and add some sheep...just something to look into if you'd like....

( i know it's thread drift from your interest in fukuoka...it seems like your main goal is sustaining your horses, so trying to recreate a sustaining grazing / grassland ecosystem seems like a good goal, and multi species / rotational grazing in all their various combinations are great tools to nudge systems in that direction)



 
Nina Jay
Posts: 85
Location: Southern Finland, mean annual temp +4 C, rainfall 700 mm, growing season 180 days, clay soil.
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Kari Gunnlaugsson wrote: Interesting topic, I probably have more questions than answers for you, but I'll throw a few ideas out...

I did a bit of a search on 'paddock paradise'. It looks like an interesting idea for some situations. If I understand right you have the horses fenced on the figure 8 and are feeding them from slow feeders, while the center circles are ungrazed? I would try to ID the plant in the center, perhaps it is more palatable at certain times of the year or may have value as hay. A nice healthy stand of something (perhaps native?) might be better than causing a disturbance and creating an opening for weeds..?




As I understand "paddock paradise" the main point in it is to get the horses moving. In a conventional paddock the horses don't move much - there is no motivation if the hay is in one place, they just stand there most of the time. Another important point is that in paddock paradise horses do not need as much land. They move along certain paths in the wild too. It is enough to let them out in the open for some galloping once a day. So that's what the center of the field is for or at least part of it. Most of the time the horses stay in their narrow path that runs along the outer edges of the field. It doesn't have to be on a figure of 8 although that is one possibility. It is important that the path is narrow enough to keep the horses walking. It can be wider at some places though. What makes the horses move is the combination of narrow path and feeders situated in many different places along the circular path. Ideally the horses are then constantly moving from feeder to another which mimics what they do in the wild. This slow exercise is very healthy for the horse. "Paddock paradise" is also ideal for rehabilitating horse: slow low impact exercise (walking).

In my opinion, many horses would be healthier and a lot of pasture would be saved from the detrimental effects of their hooves if the horses would be kept in paddock paradise most of the time also during the grazing season. Many horses cannot handle the high sugar content of grass and the lack of exercise - this combination is just too much for the metabolism of horses. Many get too fat and suffer from laminitis and metabolic syndrome. It would be better for the land and for the horses if the horses grazed the central area only for a few hours each day and the rest of the time they would stay in their paddock paradise . Horses tread on more grass than they eat, particularly when they graze 24/7. They also tend to compact the land at least if it has a high proportion of clay.

I believe Jaime Jackson is the father of paddock paradise and has written books about it. But I hope this already helps a bit.
 
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