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Author Topic: limeing sheep pastures  (Read 4907 times)

kanisha

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limeing sheep pastures
« on: February 18, 2009, 06:30:12 pm »
someone has brought this up having a read about it there is alot that interests me but I also feel like I stepped into a minefield does anyone have any good online references for the uses and advantages/ disadvantages of this stuff; what I am specifically interested in is its ability to break up clay soil, sweeten pasture I have one that is water logged even though its sloping! I was also interested to learn it may have some antiparasitic properties for soil parasites. 
other important question how soon after a pasture is limed can I put the sheep on to it,

many thanks
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woollyval

  • Joined Feb 2008
  • Near Bodmin, Cornwall
    • Val Grainger
Re: limeing sheep pastures
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2009, 01:20:40 pm »
Personally I wouldn't unless I had fields that were not environmentally sensitive, wanted to balance the Ph for growing a crop and in both instances the land was severely acidic!

It is nasty stuff and should be used with care! We have heavy clay soil and it is often waterlogged in places but we live on a springline where the clay meets greensand and vary from acidic to neutral Ph............we also live in an AONB so very sensitive....huge SSSI right next to us!

Do a Ph test on your land before you think about it would be my thoughts! :)
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Overall winner of the Devon Environmental Business Awards 2009

kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
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Re: limeing sheep pastures
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2009, 06:28:08 pm »
hmm thanks  a soil test should be easy enough to get done; not sure about a spring line there is a well at the top of the hill and one at the bottom.  you would think the water would run off quickly but it doesn't; it makes the pasture very poor as most of it is moss. reseeding worked well but no point if I can't get to solve the water logging problem.
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Fluffywelshsheep

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Near Stirling, Central Scotland
Re: limeing sheep pastures
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2009, 08:32:53 pm »
not knowing much about this but if you have a spring top and bottom and the area is already water logged then you might have a problem where the lime will run off in to the water and effect the spring .
If think it might be a more long term goal you'll have to set.  Like making drains/run offs , I could be wrong with this but that my two pennies worth
:)

rustyme

  • Guest
Re: limeing sheep pastures
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2009, 12:42:08 am »
http://books.google.com/books?id=9p8JAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=a+manual+of+practical+draining&lr=&as_brr=0

hello Kanisha,
                 liming will help rid the soil of acidity and therefore change the type of plantlife that will grow there. This is really only needed though , if you intend to grow particular plants. Better to grow plants that will cope with the conditions you have there. If you have waterlogged ground then spreading may be a problem too . Contractors will only do above a certain acreage and even if a local farmer is liming nearby, he may not want to attempt spreading on a waterlogged slope with a heavy tractor and spreader. You could spread by hand ....not a nice job at all . Calcified seaweed would do a similar job , is much nicer to handle by hand , and also adds about 28 extra vitamins and minerals into the soil. Calcified seaweed  lasts for about 5 years before needing redoing.  The heavy clay  could be dealt with by ploughing and regular additions of green/farmyard manure . You could also add gypsum , this would turn the clay into something more like a loam type soil. Once again you have the problem of spreading and of course cost. Gypsum is much nicer than lime to spread by hand though, but it would be better if the soil was ploughed and then add the gypsum. This only need be done if you want to use the land as arable really though . As for waterlogging , you may need to drain the field . This could be done with the yellow plastic land drain pipe, or maybe with a mole plough ? Both need a tractor to carry out the operation but whereas the plastic pipe costs an arm and a leg , the mole plough costs nowt to do . It just cuts a slit in the ground and at the bottom of the slit is a bullit shaped lump of metal that creates a hole under ground . This is then the drain , and may last for a few years before needing redoing . At the top of the message I put a link for a book on land drainage. It is an old book and very out of date, 1848 and by Henry Stephens , but it gives a good idea of what needs to be done to drain land. Draining the land would be first thing to do , then see if you need anything else done after.
Hope this helps a bit ......

cheers

Russ
« Last Edit: February 20, 2009, 12:56:53 am by rustyme »

kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
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Re: limeing sheep pastures
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2009, 08:27:10 am »
thanks plenty to think about :)
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woollyval

  • Joined Feb 2008
  • Near Bodmin, Cornwall
    • Val Grainger
Re: limeing sheep pastures
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2009, 04:10:32 pm »
We were having a conflab about this problem and think Rustymes answer is fantastic! Also re the moss.....is the bit of land you are describing heavily shaded by trees as that will have an effect?! We reckon too that possibly aerating the soil and a light harrow to shift some of the moss might be an idea, followed by a sprinkle of grass seed, we have done a bit of this on our boggy/mossy land in an area that does not receive a lot of light due to a fence/bushes and it has bee fairly successful............good luck
www.smallholdinginsomerset.blogspot.com
www.valgrainger.co.uk

Overall winner of the Devon Environmental Business Awards 2009

rustyme

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Re: limeing sheep pastures
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2009, 04:50:48 pm »
lol..cheers TWS....I should add though ... if you want to raise the PH level at all , don't use the gypsum, use lime instead. Lime will raise the ph level and help flocculation of the clay particles thereby improving soil condition. Gypsum would lower (slightly) the ph level , but would cause flocculation of particles slightly faster in my experience. Flocculation of clay particles would, in itself, aid aeration and drainage, but maybe not enough to cure your problem . Mole plough drainage would get rid of excess water and help with aeration thereby helping to convert your clay into a more loamy soil . The addition of well rotted manure + ploughing it in ( or green manure if you can spare the time ?) will add organic matter to the clay , opening it up still further to air and drainage. Alfalfa/lucerne  would be an excellent green manure to grow , or even grow and crop it for a year or so ? , as the roots go down some two-four yards deep into the soil . Thereby breaking up the clay deep down and opening it up to more air and drainage again .It also brings up nutrients from deep down in the ground and as it is a legume it fixes nitrogen into the soil from the air feeding the soil for any crop that you may plant in the soil after. If you grew it for a few years you could get a few really good cuts a year off of it and have a really good crop of alfalfa hay. Many ways to sort the problem , just depends on what you want from the land in question really.

cheers

Russ
 

kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
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Re: limeing sheep pastures
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2009, 05:52:22 pm »
Hi OK heres a bit more detail.

no trees its just very boggy.  its at least 1.5 metres higher than the road height with a ditch at its base so it theory it should be draining. I am assuming it isn't because it is clay and it has been ploughed in the past and is badly impacted?

Mole drains would be the ideal but not likely to happen. its also not a big field so anything getting done is small scale.  I don't need to get anything off it in terms of a crop.  just want to stop disappearing into it  when its wet. it also takes forever to dry out even after a good week without any rain and even my boggiest bits with a running ditch though are dry to walk on this is still noisily squelchy;
 
I'll get a soil test done and then i'll have more an an idea of where i can go from there. thanks everyone  :)
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buddy

  • Joined Feb 2009
  • I really love my life, especially when its sunny
Re: limeing sheep pastures
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2009, 11:44:19 pm »
Sorry to butt in on your post, we have a lot of moss in our fields this year, I presume it is due to the ground getting so wet. Anybody else noticed a large increase in their fields and how should we remove it? Thanks.
Enjoying life making the most of whats available. My kids were little yesterday, today they are almost adults, where on earth did that change happen?

rustyme

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Re: limeing sheep pastures
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2009, 12:08:04 am »
I had loads of moss  on one of my fields when I bought the land , it also had a thatch of dead grass on it . To get rid of it all I just went over with a hay bob set very low, so it was rubbing hard on the ground. That cleared all of the thatch and the moss too. I then overseeded with a patching mix of grass seed , it did the trick fine.
      Panning of the land due to ploughing would really only happen if the field was ploughed on a regular basis to the same depth , so if it has been  ploughed regularly in the past this could be one reason for it?  However, clay forming a natural barrier seems to be more likely the reason to your problems. The clay is making a waterlogged bog of the topsoil . You can find out if this is the case by digging a few holes here and there. You would have to do them where animals (or people) can't run along and fall or trip into them . Just dig a hole say 24" square and deep enough to see where the topsoil stops without breaking the clay just beneath it .Water should then sit in the hole or maybe even fill it, if left for 24 hours . Then just dig the hole a bit deeper , leave again for a day to see if it drains away . Keep doing this till the water drains away , you have then found the depth that you would need to get to  , to drain the field . It sounds like a lot of work , but it doesn't take long to dig the holes and you can do them as and when you want . Myself , I would just try growing alfalfa on it for a year or two . The roots would go really deep and allow drainage plus adding nitrogen . Then just plough it in and grow whatever mix of grass you want . If you don't need the field for grass you could always grow willow in it !!! that would soon sort the problem out . 

cheers

Russ

garden cottage

  • Joined Sep 2008
  • forest of dean
Re: limeing sheep pastures
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2009, 08:10:03 am »
just thought id mention a conversation we had with the old farmer we rent our field off. re lime many years ago hed had a 400 plus sheep flock,hundreds of lambs died inside the ewes and shortly after birth. many months of investigation followed vets came up blank. turns out that the previous landowner had limed all the fields but put far to much on,this had a knock on effect of altering the mineral make up of the soil, thus all the deaths were caused by mineral deficiency caused by to much lime on the land

kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
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Re: limeing sheep pastures
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2009, 08:22:01 am »
Hi Russ, and everyone; sadly the clay topsoil goes down metres  :( there has to be a way to improve soil structure that I can do on a limited scale its unlikely i will get much if any machinery in.
I bought a seed mix  from the UK that grew beautifully. but the soil is once again so wet that it seems to kill off all but the moss over the winter i'm sure this year things are better than last year and I will persevere. I don't want intensive production alfalfa is interesting I'll see whats available here.

I have already planted willow ;D ;D ;D
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