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Author Topic: Improving peaty, water-logged soil  (Read 15696 times)

ambriel

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Kinlochbervie, NW Sutherland, Scotland
  • Mad, bad, and dangerous to know!
    • Harbour Cottage
Improving peaty, water-logged soil
« on: February 03, 2011, 03:18:02 pm »

Our land was form many years part of a much larger croft and local people have told me how it was very productive, but when a new road was built across it and a new water main installed the land drains were destroyed, hence why it's a bit boggy.

The soil itself is very peaty in consistency and seems to hold water naturally. This is compounded by a large section of well established reeds which the pigs are starting to make progress with.

I've dug a few ditches that channel away what water gets into them but a lot of it just doesn't seem to move far from where it falls, despite the land being on a gentle slope.

Basically, I wondered what I could do to improve the soil by reducing the amount of water it retains?
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norcalorganic

  • Joined Jan 2011
Re: Improving peaty, water-logged soil
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2011, 11:36:40 pm »
Depending on how much ground you're trying to bring up to snuff, you could sand it for better drainage. Not feasible for larger plots, but can work on a small scale.

Hermit

  • Joined Feb 2010
Re: Improving peaty, water-logged soil
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2011, 10:16:45 am »
We have peaty soil but we got a contractor in to drain the land. It took him two days and it looked like the Somme but was worth it. Also ask your local agricultural agency for advice, they can test the soil and advise on liming ,grants for improvements etc. Also the main thing is dont overstock and leave your best fields without a mouse on all winter as you will just have a quagmire by spring.We leave our hay field and our good grazing field empty and the sheep are on the hill all winter. That way there is good grass for hay and lambing time. We have a bed rocky part where we intend to keep pigs as they will literally sink in peat when it is worked up. The cruelest thing I ever saw with pigs was some literally trying to kep their necks up in a peat run. They were fed on boards laid on the mud and they were at head height. My veg plot however is very fertile as it is peat based with brought in sandy soil and manure mixed in. Water does stand on peat soil till it drains and with winters up here there is a lot of water so the best advice I can give for now is keep stock to a minimum till you are sorted.

ambriel

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Kinlochbervie, NW Sutherland, Scotland
  • Mad, bad, and dangerous to know!
    • Harbour Cottage
Re: Improving peaty, water-logged soil
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2011, 07:30:59 pm »

Thanks for the replies, folks.

It's quite a small piece of land - only half an acre - and we keep half a dozen hens plus three pigs on it.

I did wonder about adding sand - we're coastal so have access to plenty of the stuff - but don't have any idea how much to add, per sq metre.

Being west coast there are no 'local' agencies to call upon.

shetlandpaul

  • Joined Oct 2008
Re: Improving peaty, water-logged soil
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2011, 09:30:36 pm »
3 pigs on 1/2 acre it must be reasonable. our two had to be pulled out of there 1/2 acre because it was so deep. don't know how you could drain it well as the pigs will wreck any ditch or drain you will put in. since the council decided to drain the road into a old non functioning drain the top field has become a bog. it was just at the gate the first two winters but now we will need to put fresh ditches in and reseed an acre or two.

ambriel

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Kinlochbervie, NW Sutherland, Scotland
  • Mad, bad, and dangerous to know!
    • Harbour Cottage
Re: Improving peaty, water-logged soil
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2011, 01:57:27 pm »
Thanks Paul,

They're only Kunes so not so heavy on the land as other breeds, but they are making a good job of the rushes.

Unfortunately it's the lower part ofthe plot that is the worst, which is also where their ark is situated. If I can stick it out till the summer I'll get  a small digger in and put some trenches and drains down, and see what happens.

shetlandpaul

  • Joined Oct 2008
Re: Improving peaty, water-logged soil
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2011, 02:58:12 pm »
same thinking here. i would not fancy putting a small digger in there at the moment.

Muc

  • Joined Nov 2008
  • Co Clare, Ireland
Re: Improving peaty, water-logged soil
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2011, 02:45:59 pm »
I've heard (not seen it done mind) that the drainage trench should be across the top or higher end of the field as draining from the bottom would be endless. If you also dug trenches along the sides you would end up with a giant raised bed of finest, fertile peat.

Hermit

  • Joined Feb 2010
Re: Improving peaty, water-logged soil
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2011, 06:01:28 pm »
If the fields are flat that is what they do here, make the fields into giant raised beds of grass. Mine are on a slope so ones go across the top and then herring bone to the bottom. One ditch has run so fast with water it has turned into a burn and is a mans height deep!

ambriel

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Kinlochbervie, NW Sutherland, Scotland
  • Mad, bad, and dangerous to know!
    • Harbour Cottage
Re: Improving peaty, water-logged soil
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2011, 09:58:29 pm »
Thanks, I think that's going to be the trick. The ground is a gentle slope with the boggiest bits being at the bottom, but with a few further up where there appear to be slight depressions in the slope.

I'll put one trench across the top and channel this off to the sides and down to where a burn drains another section.

I've got a couple of bags of bark chippings sitting in the shed. Would spreading these on the muddiest spots help soak up some of the water or would it only make matters worse?

Muc

  • Joined Nov 2008
  • Co Clare, Ireland
Re: Improving peaty, water-logged soil
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2011, 11:57:36 pm »
I can't see mulch doing any good but you could try willow or other trees that are good at taking up water.

Have you considered a hedgerow, with lots of willow, along the windward side?

shetlandpaul

  • Joined Oct 2008
Re: Improving peaty, water-logged soil
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2011, 08:02:35 am »
if its peat then i dont see bark chippings working. if you had lots of small branches you could make a floating path.

Hermit

  • Joined Feb 2010
Re: Improving peaty, water-logged soil
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2011, 08:53:13 am »
Those depressions could be a depression in the bedrock which hold water like a basin, there is nothing much you can do about that, they even maybe a spring head.We have a boggy area at the bottom of the hill, it is just a flood plain area and you cant drain a flood plain as that is the lowest point. Willows thrive in wet land but dont dry it up. We wanted to plant hundreds of trees along our burn but they said no as it was an important habitat in its own right and I could claim a grant for doing nothing! If you have a peat soil you must look after your grass,  grazing grass is not natural for peat and will just slime away on the wet, acid soil in winter and the weeds will grow especially dock and ragwort. Weeds grow faster than grass!

Muc

  • Joined Nov 2008
  • Co Clare, Ireland
Re: Improving peaty, water-logged soil
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2011, 09:15:26 am »
Following on from Hermit's post, you need to know where the water is coming from first. I assumed it was merely surface water (rain) assisted by a slight rise in the ground. Things that might help are: what the neighbours are doing; what was done in the past; and the placename.
In Ireland this is very useful as the placenames are nearly all descriptive of the topography and local information is also helpful. I recall a 'developer' buying Carey's Field for housing. It was always Carey's Bog to me as a child. Twenty years later I saw on the News that people had to be evacuated due to flooding.

ambriel

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Kinlochbervie, NW Sutherland, Scotland
  • Mad, bad, and dangerous to know!
    • Harbour Cottage
Re: Improving peaty, water-logged soil
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2011, 12:13:10 pm »
At the top of the plot the land has been built up for a barn and caravan pitch. This is much less wet than the rest so I suspect water is draining off of this. No sign of any springs although I may have found an old well. We're only a few feet above sealevel so the water table won't be far beneath the surface either, I suppose.


 

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