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Author Topic: improving a grass field, thinking of hungarian rye grass  (Read 2627 times)

Justin

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Devon
improving a grass field, thinking of hungarian rye grass
« on: October 17, 2017, 11:14:19 am »
Hi all,

we bought a little smallholding 4 years ago and slowly finding our way in this world. The field set aside for our own use has been a grass field for many years. Our neighbour grazes his sheep on it occasionally. It has loads of rushes that are well established and the grass is quite poor.

We're looking to spray the field off to kill the rushes and grass then plant a crop to improve the heavy clay soil, plough that back in and then a year with a forage crop before planting new grass in half of it and keep the other half for our own crops and some forage for pigs.

Has anyone used Hungarian rye for this? It seems like a good option to improve heavy soil. Also, you can sow in the autumn, plough it in spring for a new crop, I'm thinking we're probably a bit late for that this year, so looking to plant in spring and plough in the autumn or leave till the following spring.

Any thoughts would be much appreciated as we're new to all this.
Voss Electric Fence

farmers wife

  • Joined Jul 2009
  • SE Wales
Re: improving a grass field, thinking of hungarian rye grass
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2017, 09:20:46 pm »
click on cotswolds seeds - give them a call these people are experts on ground and seed to suit with problems. 


The rushes may be due to poor drainage, over grazing (poaching) and you may need to look into this though possible pond? combining different grasses with different root structures will help.  Not sure a mono crop would do this.


You could get hold of compost to lightly cover the soil and feed it however you cant change soil structure.  Spraying it will kill off lots of mycorrhizas and of course worms.  I would only till once.


Obv improving the hedgerow/trees will help improve water run off and bring in more insect life which will improve the soils.  You can in future improve soils with strip grazing very short term which manures the ground then left for min 90 days as stock is moved to the next strip.  It may take a number of years to see a good improvement depending on how damaged its been.  Worth thinking of compaction test, and soil test (minerals) which are cheap.




Backinwellies

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
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Re: improving a grass field, thinking of hungarian rye grass
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2017, 08:33:27 am »
I would do pH test before doing anything else
Linda

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Still playing with tractors

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Cumbernauld
  • You can never have enough HP
Re: improving a grass field, thinking of hungarian rye grass
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2017, 09:12:58 am »
I agree with "farmers wife" sort out the drainage first, then you have options of

1 weedwiper / overseed / aerate etc

or

2 do a test pit to establish the depth of topsoil and sward and then and only then make the descion about ploughing, it would be better to rotovate if you have a thin top cover.

Justin

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Devon
Re: improving a grass field, thinking of hungarian rye grass
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2017, 03:01:37 pm »
Thanks for the replies so far. Regarding drainage, when we bought the place, we had a drainage contractor in and put in several drains through the field. They empty into a pond in the next field over and are constantly running. The field is solid clay as far down as you want to dig. I don't know that we can do much else to improve drainage. We've also dug out all the ditches around the field as they hadn't been done in years.

The rushes are just really persistent and the field has been left to grass for many years with nothing being done. I don't think you could just rotorvate the field with such a solid bed of grass and rushes, you'd need to plough to do anything.

My neighbour, who's farmed here for decades says that ploughing keeps the rushes away for several years. He sprays with glyphosphate, ploughs and then plants a couple of years of crops then goes back to grass for a few years, rotating around his fields. He farms sheep and plants forage crops for them along with grass for forage and hay/silage.

I'll to a ph test and get back to you

Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: improving a grass field, thinking of hungarian rye grass
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2017, 12:04:54 pm »
If it were me .... and as it happens I have the same thing here ... I'd do this - top the rushes continuously, tight, even in winter, in fact just before frosts is ideal, and mow low.  Don't spray (you'll kill lots of beneficial micro organisms), don't plow (you will just end up unearthing many more rush seeds that you will need to let germinate and then have to kill off again).
In the spring harrow the hell out of it and sow an annual crop of deep rooted forage - crimson clover and vetch or something similar (as Farmerswife says, Cotswold seeds can help you here). Don't know much about hungarian rye grass but it might do what you want if its deep rooting, and an annual? - I'd still do a mix with something else though.  Let that grow then graze it off, harrow heavily again and reseed with a deep rooting herbal ley.  And where rushes persist, keep topping them.  Select annual grasses/legumes in that first stage because then you can just graze them off rather than need to bring in machinery to til them back into the soil.  Avoid heavy machinery.
Oh and bung on plenty of muck, as much as you can get. And lime if you can.  Aerate regularly too (if you can).




Possum

  • Joined Feb 2012
  • Somerset
Re: improving a grass field, thinking of hungarian rye grass
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2017, 08:33:46 pm »
The harrowing is interesting. Which sort do you think is best?

Still playing with tractors

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Cumbernauld
  • You can never have enough HP
Re: improving a grass field, thinking of hungarian rye grass
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2017, 04:06:42 pm »
to get rid of the reeds on their own you need a weed wiper and a product called polo :excited:

Justin

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Devon
Re: improving a grass field, thinking of hungarian rye grass
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2017, 08:31:30 am »
Thanks, some great options to think through.

bj_cardiff

  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: improving a grass field, thinking of hungarian rye grass
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2017, 01:11:06 pm »
I'm in wales on clay and quite hilly. I'd put in ditches to divert any surface water but in reality, the soil drains so badly that you can have a 6ft ditch right next to a big puddle and it just won't drain. I'd do as Foobar says and top continusly. I'd use Agritox to spray the new growth as it'll kill the rushes but leave the grass behind. Just keep on top of it.


 

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