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Grass at Astwood

Monday 13 April, 2015

by Rosemary at 10:16am in Grassland management 2 comments Add your own

The grass at our rented grazing was ploughed and resown in 2007. The soil hasn’t been tested since then, so I’ve had it done this year. Testing every four years is generally recommended, unless there is a specific problem.

Got the results back on Friday. For some reason, all the paddocks are high in magnesium – this sounds like good news for preventing magnesium deficiency in the livestock, but it also inhibits the uptake of potassium by grass. I have no idea why there’s high Mg but it means that we don’t want to use magnesium lime to correct the pH.

Soil tests et al

Monday 23 February, 2015

by Rosemary Champion at 2:31pm in Grassland management 2 comments Add your own

Do you ever start to do one small thing, and it grows into something bigger and bigger? Happens to me all the time - and it did yesterday. Actually, it happened three times yesterday but I'll relate one just now.

When someone tells me they've bought land, one of my first questions is "Have you had the soil tested for pH, P,K and Mg?" We had Dalmore tested in 2010 and again in 2013, but our rented grazing hasn't been tested since 2007 so I was thinking about soil testing Astwood this year and was, therefore, looking out an old invoice to see how much we'd paid last time.

Improving our grazing

Monday 8 July, 2013

by Rosemary at 5:06pm in Grassland management 1 comment Add your own

Back on 17th April, I posted a diary entry called “Helping the grass grow”. At the time, I was in a flat panic that the grass was never going to grow again. Well it has, and without us doing all the things I listed back in April:

The two Top paddocks are similar as are the two Ditch paddocks so I reckon they can get the same treatment. The samples have gone to SRUC at Forfar for testing. Each sample will cost £15.70 to test for pH, phosphate, potassium and magnesium. I could save some money by submitting one test, given our small acreage but the ground conditions do vary across the property. But if the tests come back very similar, I will only submit one sample in future. :-)

Helping the grass grow

Wednesday 17 April, 2013

by Rosemary at 10:22am in Grassland management 4 comments Add your own

I think I have said before that managing grass causes me more headaches than any other part of smallholding. All I can say is “nothing’s changed”.

Last year (2012) was pretty awful for our grazing. Grass doesn’t really appreciate being under water – and some of ours was for a good part of the year. Although our soil is mostly loamy sand and sandy loam, we are close to sea level and the water table is quite high. Coupled with the fact that some of our neighbours aren’t terribly assiduous are ditch clearing, we had a lot of standing water for much of the year.

November grazing

Monday 31 October, 2011

by Rosemary at 10:55am in Grassland management Comments closed

Because I am a bit of a control freak (possibly with a hint of OCD), I like to rotate the grazing on the first of the month. I keep a spreadsheet by month and grazing group, and mark up who was grazing where and when - so moving stock monthly makes that easier. It's also my understanding that, to reduce the worm burden, grass needs to be rested for about three weeks.

So for November, the ewes and tup are in Far Ditch Field (field names are also a "thing" of mine laugh). Leo went out on Saturday 29th October - which is close enough to 1st November - and has served two ewes. Seven to go. They will stay in that field until Leo comes out.

More strimming

Thursday 20 October, 2011

by Rosemary at 11:13am in Grassland management Comments closed

The life of a smallholder is certainly varied. I was strimming on Tuesday (in addition to the routine jobs). Yesterday, we trimmed the tup's feet, dagged the ewes and move the tup (and wether) into the adjacent paddock, so that  they can indulge in a little foreplay prior to Leo going in with them at the end of the month. Then I made sloe gin and a pile of sponge cakes to use up the eggs we found in the hedgerow.

Today, it's back to strimming rushes. I've now finished Top Field and chopped the few in Far Ditch paddock, then I ran out of petrol. Looks much better though. If we can eliminate the rushes by draining,cutting and grazing, we'd rather do that than spray. The drain's mad a big difference and the new fencing will help us manage the grazing better.

Strimming

Tuesday 18 October, 2011

by Rosemary at 6:51pm in Grassland management Comments closed

I've been strimming this afternoon. It's been lovely here - sunny and dry, but very windy. Dan and John were finishing the fence between Ditch Field and the Bothy's garden so I got the harness on, the yellow helmet with ear defenders and visor and fired up the strimmer.

I was aiming to cut down the soft rushes in Top Field. They are quite bad this year - we didn't spray last year but we did this summer and we've had a new field drain put in, so hopefully we'll get on top of them in the next couple of years. What really prompted me though was that I took the train to Perth last weekend to meet a chum and, as the railway runs along the bottom of our holding, I saw the field from the railway. It looked awful surprise. So today's task was mainly vanity, but I hope it will knock them back a bit for next year.

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