• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Seeking ideas for healing old horse pasture

 
Kirk Hockin
Posts: 67
Location: Merville, BC
7
bee bike duck food preservation forest garden hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have about 3.5 acres of compacted, old horse pasture in the PNW. Wet winters, dry summers. The pasture currently grows well enough with grasses and yarrow, a few patches of thistle. It is slightly sloped with only minor 'wet spots' after solid winter rainy spells.

I'd like to heal/rehabilitate the pasture. I'm planning on developing it as silvopasture over the long term, with polyculture fedges/tree lines and raising ducks/hens/geese/hogs in the 'paddocks'. I have access to a compact tractor with a chain harrow and a flail mower. I'm not able to overwinter any large animals, other than some laying poultry (perhaps a dozen or so).

I've read up on overseeding pasture, and I'm considering a seed mix of pasture grasses, brassicas, clovers, vetches, daikon and rape.

My conundrum is a lack of experience and a limited cash flow (I'm asset comfy while cash flow is minor). I've been researching bulk seeds and convectional overseeding rates and it seems I could easily spend hundreds of dollars just in a seasons worth of seed (keep in mind this is Canada, where everything costs more... except health care).

Please advise me how I can heal/rehabilitate my pasture, increase the pasture botany and build soil, while keeping costs as low as possible. Maybe there's no way around it; I just have to spend the money. But maybe... there's something awesome and simple I just don't know...

Cheers!
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
187
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Natural succession can work wonders. If it were allowed to grow up in red alder, broom and a dozen other things, you'd see improvement. If there's no time for that, consider dumping deciduous tree waste everywhere along with the tons of free horse manure and coffee waste that are available. Seaweed can address many nutrient issues.
 
Kirk Hockin
Posts: 67
Location: Merville, BC
7
bee bike duck food preservation forest garden hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Succession is amazing, no doubt about it... However, I'm not willing to wait decades, nor be so hands off. I also don't have the cargo capacity, nor the time, to scavenge 3000 cubic yards of mulch. 3.5 acres mulched to 6 inches works out to just under 3000 cubic yards, and with my 4'x8' trailer that's in the neighbourhood of 1500 loads... So let me clarify:

I'm seeking pasture seeding ideas/techniques that are at a budget level (both time and money). I guess I'm wondering if it's possible to 'underseed' (as in lesser amounts and therefore cheaper) a pasture with highly vigorous plants, plants which are still useful to poultry and pigs, and let those plants reseed over a year or two, in the 'go forth and multiply' sense. Are there certain species or certain densities of seeds that can make a difference? In the same vein, at what minimum seeding rate per acre is it not worth it?

At the same time I do understand that different species have very different seeding rates... And I'm not looking for shrub/tree culture ideas; I am planning food forestry areas on the property, but I'm like to keep this 3.5 acres as mostly open pasture.

It just occurred to me: Perhaps I'm seeking a variant of the 80-20 concept (the Pareto Principle) for pasture seeding. The idea that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. So again I ask: Is there a tricksy/folksy way to reseed a polyculture pasture?
 
Jd Gonzalez
Posts: 205
Location: Virginia,USA zone 6
12
forest garden greening the desert hunting trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am new and have no experience in pastures. But here in Virginia Polyface farms (Joel Salatin) uses cell grazing for chickens, turkey, pigs and cattle. You might want to check his approach.
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2310
77
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Have you considered chicory? It's not really that domesticated, so it still has enough wild genes that it will flower and set viable seed and those seeds will colonize more area. It's much better than brassicas at reseeding itself, and it is a perennial -- after the flower stalk dies back in the summer, it will sprout again from the root. I have it in my chicken tractor grazing area, and the girls are always happy when they get moved over a big clump of chicory and they can tear it to bits -- then it comes right back.

If you want to start a small plot, send me a PM with your address and I can send you a starter sample. If you collect the seed heads and spread them around, you can assist how fast it gets established in your pasture.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
187
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jd Gonzalez wrote:I am new and have no experience in pastures. But here in Virginia Polyface farms (Joel Salatin) uses cell grazing for chickens, turkey, pigs and cattle. You might want to check his approach.



Welcome to permies, J.D. That's good advice about Salatin. If you go into "My profile" at the top of the page, you can fill out your location and climate zone. This helps others understand your situation when you post about your crops or projects.

I've seen chicory growing wild in a trucking yard near Kirk's location. Sometimes it is found on the edges of parking areas. Definitely not a needy plant.
 
R. Morgan
Posts: 22
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm in South Australia and have an area I'd like to upgrade in a similar way. Seed seems to be hard to obtain, unless it's to collect a small amount by hand, spread the seeds and let nature take its course. I want to add grasses and clovers, but wonder what other plants would benefit the soil and allow grazing. I'll follow this forum with great interest.
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would heartily second John's recommendation of chickory. It is a great pasture improving, naturalizing plant. Also I would consider alfalfa and plantain. All three of these can be purchased by the pound, economically.

As to how to get them to establish, if you have livestock of any type, and can use electric fence to mob graze them, then you are in business. Each time you confine the animals to a small grazing paddock, hand broadcast your seed there. The trampling action of their hooves will press the seeds into the soil, and you should get pretty good germination. This is the easiest, and most sure way I have found to get new plants to germinate in an established pasture.

good luck! you have a good project; done right, it will be worth the effort and cost.
 
R. Morgan
Posts: 22
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Adam, or is that Santa ?
What a quick reply.
I will take this all on board and hope to be able to do something about it after the heatwave goes away.
It's midsummer here and temps will be about 40 C for the next week or so.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
187
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Adam, you got two in one there. Kirk and Mr. Morgan's fields will soon improve.

There's an added bonus to this. In a short time you'll have an ample supply of the world's most awful coffee substitute. I've had a few cups of chicory. Not my cup of tea coffee.
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dale Hodgins wrote:
There's an added bonus to this. In a short time you'll have an ample supply of the world's most awful coffee substitute. I've had a few cups of chicory. Not my cup of tea coffee.


Seriously Dale. I dont know who ever came up with that horrible idea.

I do like to nibble on chicory flowers all summer long. Great morning bitter tonic.
 
Carl Moore
Posts: 24
Location: NY
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Seeding with the right mix is probably the best thing you can do if you are looking for shorter term solutions.

also recommend foliar feeding every 2 - 4 weeks throughout the season. Foliar feeds are the other toolbox that is often ignored by farmers. remember, healthy plants build healthy soils very quickly.. the 2 work WELL together as a system as whole. To learn more about using these tools together come see us at Farmacyseeds.net We have lots of educational tools and its all free. I'd be glad to help guide you through the rehab process for your land. you'd be amazed what can be done in just 1 year with the right foliars (these are extremely cheap and use a very small amount of material to drastically increase plant health and performance without compromising biology or suppressing the natural systems.




hope this helps!

Rebootag
 
This parrot is no more. It has ceased to be. Now it's a tiny ad:
Got Permaculture games? Yes! 66 cards, infinite possibilities::
www.FoodForestCardGame
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic