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Trees (roots) & Livestock (Cows & Pigs) can they get along?  RSS feed

 
Paul Wertenberger
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Background: We own 80 acres in SE Nebraska, reclaimed farm land that hasn't been farmed for 20 yrs. The draws (ditches) and creek areas have Oaks, walnuts, hackberry, cottonwoods, as well as various other trees.

We are in the process of taming the "timber" areas and trying to get rid of buck-brush, poison ivy, wild rose, etc. I'm using cattle and hogs to improve the draws, which means break over the sharp drop off of the banks 4-20' banks. I rotate the cows through 2-3 times each year trying to not graze the same area at the same time each year. (ex graze it April, September one year and June, October the next).

I want to get as much "herd impact" as possible to change the timber areas to make them more kid friendly, also to open them up to allow more grasses to grow with out damaging the existing trees.

So how much herd impact, soil compaction can occur with out damaging the roots of the trees, and for that also, the fungi? As I'd hate to ruin my chanterelle, hen of the woods, and chicken of the woods areas.

Paul
 
Robert Kourik
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Hi Paul, Compaction is a real problem with roots and myco. fungi. The fungi like to thrive in the top 4 inches of the soil. So you can see how easily the fungus is damaged. Most of the roots of trees are in the top 4-18 inches. This means compaction is a problem. That said, you have no other real options when trying to deal with your "weed" problems. Luckily myco. fungi can easily repopulate the soil's surface after the compaction is over. As can tree roots as they grow back up into the surface soils.
 
Paul Wertenberger
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Thank you for the quick reply.

Would it be better (strictly speaking to roots), to leave the animals on

1: for a long period of time, then off for a long period of time ex. 6 mo. on and 6 mo off .

2: 1-2 weeks on and 3 mo. off then repeat, 1-2 weeks on and 3 mo off

3: any other suggestions

Paul
 
Robert Kourik
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Boy Paul this is way out of my league. I deal with mostly suburban-scale projects. I've never worked with the animals you have. I only like to talk about what I've done, not guess or fantasize. Good luck.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Robert Kourik wrote:Boy Paul this is way out of my league. I deal with mostly suburban-scale projects. I've never worked with the animals you have. I only like to talk about what I've done, not guess or fantasize. Good luck.


The longer you leave animals on a plot, the more compaction that plot will see. A best case scenario would be to mob graze animals in a one to two week rotation on followed by a 3-6 month off period. Some cattle men use a one year rotation (I don't have enough land for doing that).
Doing this allows the pasture roots to grow and loosen the soil back up some before the mob comes back to graze the plants down again. It also allows all that wonderful manure to incorporate into the soil.

We set up small paddocks, enough space for our animals to graze down in one week. At the end of that week, they are moved to the next paddock, and then the next. They find their way back to the initial paddock after 4 months, the grasses have recovered and the soil is looser under foot than when they were moved off that paddock, the manure they left is also fully incorporated into the soil by the time they are put back on that particular paddock. So far, the trees in each paddock area are fairing well, no signs of extensive root damage, the mycorrhizals are flourishing and all that helps the grasses and root crops grow well and supply good nutrition for the animals.


 
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