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Pasture generation/improvement for sheep

 
R. Morgan
Posts: 22
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I have a hard white clay subsoil with a small amount of dusty brown soil on top. Grass struggles and is slow growing. Soil is acidic.
I am thinking of adding lots of horse manure to improve soil structure , moisture holding capacity and fertility. This is a smallish area
of irrigated pasture (in South Australia) which I need to establish. I need to find out what deep rooted plants to put in the mix, where to get the seeds for
it in small enough quantities and really.......... everything



All ideas appreciated.
 
Joseph Fields
Posts: 170
Location: Berea, Kentucky
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No advice to add. I am also interested in the topic.
 
R. Morgan
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Well as luck would have it, I saw an advert today from somebody giving away horse manure free, including delivery. In the next week I expect 27 cubic metres of horse manure (all they have) to arrive. I hope they will give me future supplies too, I can only hope. If my guesstimate is close, this means about 20 millimetres of manure covering the entire irrigated paddock. Doesn't sound enough, but it's a (healthy) start. I will have to try and measure the paddock more accurately, in the first instance by pacing it out I am hoping that it well help the soil to retain a bit more moisture to kick off a bit more microbial and worm life. To do it, I will have to keep watering, as it's mid summer here now.
 
C Englund
Posts: 12
Location: Bloomington, IN
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How Acidic is your soil? Manure will further acidify it. I would recommend mixing lime, preferably lime in a gypsum mix, to raise the pH and the gypsum increases the permeability of your clay soil (Calcium being the important part of that. Magnesium limes are less beneficial). And I'm talking tons of it, 1 ton per acre isn't unusual here on large tracts of ag land. See if you have an state/university agronomist in your area (here in the US state universities and ag depts typical have "extension services"). I'm sure some here would advocate against them as they can be "agents of the industrial complex" but growing plants in your soil is their job, and they typically can provide knowledge specific to your area.

In short, fix your acid/clay issue asap with gypsum lime so you can get something to grow, then find plants to fortify and improve your soil (legumes add Nitrogen but cause acidity, deep root tubers like tillage radishes aerate/permeate the soil for deep health and drainage, grasses can be fast growing to build Carbon/organic matter, etc plants for improvements.)
 
R. Morgan
Posts: 22
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You are right about the lime, and I will get onto that next. I was reading about the radishes just yesterday and the idea of using them to improve aeration and carbon content seems excellent. I will have to go with the horse manure as well, and I appreciate the comments about getting things to grow first. I will see how things 'pan' out

Any ideas on how to do the liming without equipment?
 
C Englund
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Location: Bloomington, IN
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From your volume and thickness I figure you have 1350 m2=.33 acre=.135 ha?

How are you spreading the manure? On a mechanized farm, we dump alternating buckets of manure and lime into the spreader, but it doesn't look like you have a big enough area for that. You might want to look into a small yard tractor to tow a trailer around with and get a spinner spreader and push blade and whatnot for it. I don't know how big your overall operation is, but a lawn tractor would be nice for a few acres. They even have miniature manure spreaders. I assume you have more land than the above calculated because that's only enough for 1-2 sheep.
 
R. Morgan
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C Englund wrote:From your volume and thickness I figure you have 1350 m2=.33 acre=.135 ha?

How are you spreading the manure? On a mechanized farm, we dump alternating buckets of manure and lime into the spreader, but it doesn't look like you have a big enough area for that. You might want to look into a small yard tractor to tow a trailer around with and get a spinner spreader and push blade and whatnot for it. I don't know how big your overall operation is, but a lawn tractor would be nice for a few acres. They even have miniature manure spreaders. I assume you have more land than the above calculated because that's only enough for 1-2 sheep.


The truck will tip it and spread it out in a long line. At the moment it will be a rake from there. The small yard tractor with accessories sounds like the shot. I will save up my dollars. My whole property is 35 acres and the irrigated paddock is about 3/4 acre, so it may spread out a little thinner, or I may spread out over only half the area this time. I'm yet to decide that. The paddock will mainly be used for small regular feeds of green grass during summer, when most of the grass around the property has browned off. Thanks for the advice, it all helps massively
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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