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Author Topic: Best plan of attack for my fields!  (Read 3133 times)

Sarah Smyth

  • Joined Oct 2014
Best plan of attack for my fields!
« on: October 28, 2014, 05:44:58 pm »
Hi there!

This is my first post on here, hope someone can give me a few pointers on my smallholding project and correct anything wrong i'm suggesting too! I'm a newbie to this!

I've found my way into having a smallholding of 12 acres and learning as I go how to deal with it all. Previous person who had the land didn't do too much (if anything) apart from run sheep on it. I've had sheep on the usable parts of the land for the past few summer months....now with the sheep coming off here is my chance to get doing some land management!. The land is all in adjoining fields slightly sloping towards a watercourse and can be described as follows:

 - 10 acres - fairly poor quality grazing land with small patches of long reed grass all over. I've had sheep on here grazing it off over the past few months so it is fairly short now.

 - 1 acre - long grass (3ft) full of buttercups

 - 1 acre - lowest lying and completely covered with reed grass, quite boggy, adjacent to a watercourse

The plan going forward is to use all the land (or as much as poss) for summer sheep grazing.

So first thing I'm having done is some ph testing of the various soils. Since the land slopes away towards a watercourse and has been poorly tended to over recent years and the presence of buttercups/reeds...it looks like it is going to be rather acidic.  Assuming this is the case, would it be a good idea to have the site limed at this stage? If so, any suggestions on type/quantity? Would it be a good idea to manure/fertilise the land at this stage or could this be left for a future time?

When it comes to the patches of reed grass, I was planning during November to cut these back by hand and spot treat with weedkiller...repeating as necessary.

When it comes to the 1 acre of long grass/buttercups...I was planning on leaving this and letting it die back over winter. This is only the second year it has been let to grow wild like this. Next year i was going to open it up to the sheep again.
 
As for the marshy area of reed grass near the watercourse, I was just going to leave this as is. It has been left a long time like this and at the end of the day it is fairly unusable. Any suggestions on how best to contain the reed grass and stop it encroaching further into the other fields?

Any other tips/pointers would be much appreciated.

thanks again!
Voss Electric Fence

WhiteHorses

  • Joined Apr 2013
  • West Lothian, Scotland
Re: Best plan of attack for my fields!
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2014, 10:28:40 am »
We bought 5 acres of acidic boggy land which had done nothing for 15+ years, with a lot of marsh grass/reeds and buttercups and hardly any good grass. My two horses were slightly hungry last summer!

We topped and then sprayed the regrowth last year with a combination of weedfkillers for buttercups, marsh grass and ragwort. I didn't like the principal of spraying, but I have to say it has made a huge difference to the usable grazing. This year we had very few buttercups and only 1/2 a dozen ragwort plants come up and the marsh grass has stuck to the wettest bits and not taken over. We just topped this year. Next year I might lime. We also had a soil analysis done and are also very deficient in copper and zinc. I feed a mineral supplement for this.

We looked at land drains but thequote was £10k with the prognosis of "some improvement" so we havent done that.

In your situation I'd have a soil analysis done and then lime as required. The analysis will tell you the quantity. I'd consider spraying the acre of buttercups if lime alone doesn't knock them back and maybe spray the marsh grass. Marsh grass also seems to need lots of topping to stop it taking over.

Backinwellies

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  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
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Re: Best plan of attack for my fields!
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2014, 12:05:22 pm »
Is ' reed grass' .... a rush? 
 
If so we are having success with cutting and weed wiping regrowth (by hand)  with glyphosate (slightly less damaging to environment than some other sprays) .... and adding calcifert to improve pH.

 Some cattle and some ponies do eat these down too (my Shetland cows do) so mixed grazing is to be recommended.
Linda

Don't wrestle with pigs, they will love it and you will just get all muddy.

Let go of who you are and become who you are meant to be.

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Treud na Mara

  • Joined Mar 2014
  • East Clyh, Caithness
  • Living the dream in Caithness
Re: Best plan of attack for my fields!
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2014, 12:12:23 pm »
I was just going to ask if you meant rushes too. If so the most important control is to chop them just before they flower. This will definitely control the spread. We have found that scything twice a year seriously weakens them and being greenies, as well as scottish, we dried and baled them to use as bedding for our chickens and pygmy goats over the winter. I would chose a liming time very carefully as with the amount of rain at the moment and the sloping site it could all just get washed into the watercourse, which would neither improve it or your fields.
With 1 Angora and now 6 pygmy goats, Jacob & Icelandic sheep, chooks, a cat and my very own Duracell bunny aka BH !

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Best plan of attack for my fields!
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2014, 12:14:13 pm »
Are the sheep yours?  I would think fluke may be a concern on such wet ground.  Soil analysis a good idea.  You could get it grazed down tight over next summer and broadcast native grass seed next Autumn to improve the grazing - cheap and effective if your timing's right as it will germinate before the Winter and be ready to grow away quickly and crowd out some of the annual weeds.  Seed when your neighbours plant their winter barley.

Sarah Smyth

  • Joined Oct 2014
Re: Best plan of attack for my fields!
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2014, 07:46:58 am »
Thank you for your replies, no the sheep aren't mine. Have a grazing license in place with a local farmer. Just awaiting the soil test results as a starting point here to determine next steps.

john and helen

  • Joined Mar 2013
  • Devon
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Re: Best plan of attack for my fields!
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2014, 08:17:54 pm »
 :wave: Sarah

we to have a reedy area, near the stream, my thoughts are to dig a pond, to keep water foul...

Backinwellies

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Re: Best plan of attack for my fields!
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2014, 06:56:38 am »
:wave: Sarah

, to keep water foul...

I guess that you mean water fowl  John  :roflanim:
Linda

Don't wrestle with pigs, they will love it and you will just get all muddy.

Let go of who you are and become who you are meant to be.

http://nantygroes.blogspot.co.uk/
www.nantygroes.co.uk
Nantygroes  facebook page

john and helen

  • Joined Mar 2013
  • Devon
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Re: Best plan of attack for my fields!
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2014, 10:31:06 pm »
:wave: Sarah

, to keep water foul...

I guess that you mean water fowl  John  :roflanim:

no..they are messy buggers  ;D ;D :roflanim:

Zebedee

  • Joined Jul 2013
Re: Best plan of attack for my fields!
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2014, 06:50:48 am »
What is your vision? I'd go further and ask what is the vision for your life and how does the land fit into that? That's just a personal question you ask yourself. Then I'd look at the land and make a careful analysis of what it holds, its characteristics, its strengths and weaknesses. That way you can arrive at a list of possibilities, usage-wise. Then you select from those and start beavering away with an action plan for the activities you chose to pursue. Each activity or project breaks down into a sequential list of tasks to tackle and tells you what you must do to get there. It ain't always straightforward but that's half the fun. 

 

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