Hi, my dad has pasture on sw Scotland. Prob zone 7. He is finding that with the high rainfall and low light levels mosses are beginning to dominate over the grasses and the pasture quality is deteriorating rapidly. Please can anyone suggest any remedies? His soil is pH 5.3 so we have been wondering how to raise this without the cost of liming. Also very wet - rushes grow on the top of the hill.
ideas been put forward ;
Grow lotus uloginosis (greater birds foot trefoil) to help the nutrient levels.
chain Harrow the field to reduce the moss, sow fescue and bent~acid tolerant, strong growing grasses?
Show chicory to open up the soil?
Simply spraying a diluted mixture of dish soap and water onto the moss will kill it. But for a pasture, that would be a lot of dish soap.
Iron metal shavings will also kill moss. If you know someone who turns brake rotors, get a big bunch of metal shavings from them and then scatter them around on the moss. You could approach anyone who machines metal parts --- but it needs to be shavings from steel or iron -- basically, anything that rusts. You don't want any shavings from stainless steel or aluminum or any non ferrous metal, or you'll have sparkly silver glitter out there for the rest of your days.
Fundamentally, anything you do to rid the land of moss will only be temporary unless you change the underlying conditions that are causing the moss to thrive. More sunlight, better drainage . . . that sort of thing.
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Any chance you've got really shallow ground water there? If you dug down 2-3 feet (a meter) with a posthole digger would it fill in with water? It might be a good spot for a pond. Some friends of ours couldn't get anything to grow under similar conditions, turned out there was a ton of water underneath and now they can float on boats there's so much. The levels go up and down, but it never dries out.
Or try a dowser, see what they get.
Don't fall for the My-Place-Is-Special, It-Won't-Happen-Here Syndrome.
It the wet acidic and boggy west of Ireland I've been told that very fast growing poplar trees shot up out of the ground once planted from cuttings (see the way out west blow in blog on YouTube) trees are massive pumps that will help to aerate your soil and pump water out by evapotranspiration. I tried this on a very small scale in a boggy corner of the garden and it worked. Would be free to try and the trees can grow over to be proper tree sized in a couple of years. This would also add shelter for grazing animals and improve soil retention. Bonus of free kindling, bonfires, wood chips and leaf mulch if you want it. You could chip it fine and use or sell it as bedding for winter barns.
I'm imagining as many cuttings round the edge of fields and in the very worst places fence off some small areas and grow blueberries and ligion berries (they are fashionable and sacandavian now but are native to the UK under the name cow Berry)
If mob grazing and use of iron filings is out of the question you can use commercially produced copper sulphate dilution then rake the moss out but as you're on pasture scale I'd say Harrow it out? No idea is copper sulphate is dodgy though. Then reseed with good fast growing pasture.
Moss thrives on anaerobic conditions so on a lawn you can braid fork the surface to aerate, again on your scale I'm sure there's a tool for that... Is that what a key line plough is or am I remembering wrong?
I'd say anything you can do to increase biodiversity will help
The problem with popular is they send up new trees from the roots and eventually take up the whole area. Though livestock tend to keep them in check by eating new shoots. I don't have grazing animals on my field now so it is a constant battle to keep them cut down.
It won't be a few poplars. It will be about 200 - 1000 per acre. If you have rushes to the hilltops, you have a serious water holding soil.
Bite the bullet and lime the soil if you want grass. Typical doses are a metric tonne per hectare per pH unit, but some of that depends on what is buffering the pH. Take a soil sample to your local ag chem shop.
Or grow a crop of blueberries.
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