If your Horse pastures are looking like these photos above , it may be time for a Horse Pasture Renovation...
If you have an intensely used small pasture for your horse on a farm or acreage that just won't produce grass anymore, you're not alone. This problem is common on smaller pastures where horses are not able to be moved for significant periods of time to allow regeneration of grass or forage.
Note: Pasture rejuvenation processes are very similar to how we treat city lawns destroyed or damaged by dog urine. The soil needs to be fixed, you can't simply try and replant the grass. dog spots are salt laden (with other bad stuff) that need to be neutralized by a naturally occurring chemical reaction. Once the soil is neutralized, grass can be replanted.
However if the pasture has been overused for a long period, it may never fully regenerate no matter how long you can keep the horses away from it. A pasture with a lot of horse use can develop a series of problems not easily resolved by simply moving the horses away for a period of time. You cannot simply try reseeding the area to restore it, once the soil is damaged or altered negatively replanting grass seed is not an option and a waste of money. The soil needs to fixed first, then replanting can take place and kept vigorous thereafter with a simple yearly or bi-yearly program.
When a small area is occupied by horses for a long period the animals can cause havoc with the soil,
microbes and plant life in it. One of the main problems is accumulating urine from the animals. Horse urine contains a lot of salt and other compounds that can cause problems in the soil. Salt buildup will eventually render the soil completely infertile and once its gotten to toxic levels, it can be very hard to get rid of.
In the western provinces and states our native soil type can be part of the problem as well. High clay soils or sodic soils are predominant in Alberta as much of the land was once an ancient sea bed. Montmorillinite clay soil is very problematic as it is high in sodium compounds which includes sodium chloride (salt) . The salt is a strong binding agent and makes the clay both slick and sticky with almost no porosity or drainage. adding more salt from horse urine can only make things worse.
Salt will bind into clay soils and is sometimes impossible to get out without drastic measures. Clay soils have poor drainage and once the salt has crystallized into it, it won't dissipate even over a long period of time. These soils are often very poor to begin with usually hard pan, low organic material, poor drainage and extremely low in available nutrients and microbe life which are vital to good grass growth. Attempting to use chemical fertilizers can actually make a bad situation even worse. Chemical salt fertilizers can destroy high clay soils balance quickly and have the reverse effect you are looking for.
The other problem is compaction from the horses walking on it all the time. Clay soils compact very easily, especially when they are a bit wet . Clay soils have little or no drainage qualities to begin with, when compacted they become like pavement and do not allow plants to flourish.
Treating clay soils will do a number of things. Most important is relieving the propensity for compaction by altering the chemical makeup. Use of calcium based clay busters will destroy the strong binding action of the sodium in the soil by swapping the ions out with calcium compounds. The sodium is then freed up and can be leached or washed out of the soil by water.
Once the tight binding action of the sodium is reversed the soil becomes looser and both air and water can penetrate into it deeper providing better drainage as well as aeration. Many people waste money yearly having there lawns "aerated". This action is wasted on hard pan clay soils commonly found all over Alberta. the holes punched into the soil provide a little compaction relief, but the air does not penetrate past the the bottom of the holes.
Aeration and compaction relief in clay soils is more effective using mineral or natural organic
flocculation (a fancy word for aeration). Soil floculants really work well and can make a huge difference to the soil consistency in a shorter period of time. Remember, this is not an overnight process, time is measured geologically which may mean weeks, months or years. We specialize in natural mineral and organic based soil flocculents and can suggest an appropriate treatment for your specific soil issues.
While many of our native grasses and plants can stand higher salt levels, a lot of desirable grazing plants
cannot tolerate it at all. Getting the pasture soil back to a good PH balance and removing or destroying the salt in
the soil is an important step and can be done without a lot of cost if the correct amendments are used. In general when we treat pastures with poor clay soils we address all of these issues at the same time.
Once a pasture with clay soils has been treated for salt, compaction and poor drainage it will likely never treatment again for that. Once the soil is tempered properly it will stay that way. The only issue down the road is to deal with the salt build up and altered PH from the animals continued use of the pasture. This is a simple process with a moderate cost that often the homeowner can do themselves. treatment every second year with some dry granular amendments is done with a fertilizer spreader in the fall or spring. Not much product is required when a regular program is followed, cost per acre is minimal.
Many horse pastures were never planned and planted as such, often a horse owner simply fenced off some land
with the natural plant life and native grasses already on it. Some grass or graze mix may have been over seeded
on the surface of the existing pasture land using a fertilizer spreader and left to own devices.
This may have been Ok for a few years, then the owners start to notice the grass is not bouncing back after a few years, bald patches are showing up and the weeds are invading in more and more alarming numbers...this is typical once the soil has become exhausted and is undergoing fundamental chemical balance changes due to overuse of a small area.
The other issue involves the erosion and alteration of the land inside the pastures. Horses will wear out
ruts, holes and trails in the turf. The surface can become pitted and bumpy which not only looks ugly, but can
become a hazard to horse and rider. We can resurface the entire pasture if required at the time of pasture renovation.
When a pasture requires a major overhaul, we will often till and level the entire area to restore the soil and provide a new level surface. This is not as difficult or as costly as it sounds. Often completely reworking the soil and adding soil amendments, new organic mass and soil conditioners results in beautiful new pasture with vibrant grass and healthy soil.
Once this is done, the new pasture can easily be maintained and kept healthy by a simple regimen. In most cases the homeowner can do the work themselves. Addition yearly or every other year of a few organic treatments will
keep the soil healthy and biologically alive.
Call us for details.
We are accepting booking for this spring.
April and May are ideal months for this work
Mistaya Land & Water
Toll Free 1-877-894-9378 - Direct Dial 1-403-638-8090
Email : email@example.com
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