Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Applying sodium to pasture  (Read 3371 times)

Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Applying sodium to pasture
« on: November 20, 2013, 03:00:50 pm »
I had a forage analysis done earlier in the year and one of the things found was that my pasture is very very low in sodium.  This would also explain why there are areas that the sheep won't graze heavily if they can help it - i.e. they don't like the taste.
Does anyone have any experience of applying sodium (Na2O) to pasture to improve palatability? What rates to use and when the best time to apply is?

devonlad

  • Joined Nov 2012
  • Nr Crediton in Devon
Re: Applying sodium to pasture
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2013, 03:56:43 pm »
As well as playing a huge role in improving grass palatability, Sodium also can help reduce risk of staggers as it helps in the uptake of magnesium and also incidentally sulphur- It is also vital for ruminants in the manufacture of sodium bicarb aiding rumen health. sorry but its what I do for a living- first time on here I know something !!
Advised application rates for straight salt, can vary but standard advice is 1 cwt (50kg) an acre applied early spring. though there is also a suggestion that it could be applied in 10kg an acre instalments throughout the season. - though that does sound a bit of a faff. Land that is found to be low in Sodium will generally always struggle to retain it (non coastal areas are worse funnily enough) so autumn application tends to be a bit wasteful. you'll probably need to do it most years. Fertiliser salt works out at around 95  a tonne delivered- minimum 6 tonnes- and is basically salt which has been graded to fit through a spinner. there are various products about that contain salt in addition to other elements- most well known is probably sylvinite which also contain magnesium- application rates here tend to be higher- up to 4 cwt and it is pricier per tonne. there are various other pasture conditioners ( some of which I sell !!)which contain lots of goodies in addition to salt- again much pricier- 200+ per tonne and with higher suggested application rates 4 cwt +

shygirl

  • Joined May 2013
Re: Applying sodium to pasture
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2013, 04:06:24 pm »
thats something i didnt know.



(just wondering what affect grazing coastal (salty) grass would have on the animals health. i know flavour would come through the meat in for example geniune shetland sheep, but health wise?)

Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: Applying sodium to pasture
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2013, 04:16:54 pm »
Brilliant, thank you devonlad you are a star!  :)

devonlad

  • Joined Nov 2012
  • Nr Crediton in Devon
Re: Applying sodium to pasture
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2013, 04:27:38 pm »
strangely despite what  I said previously I was on a coastal farm a couple of weeks ago soil testing. this farm could not be more coastal- beautiful, on top of cliffs with nothing but America ahead. and the sodium levels were all low !! Generally however the salty air means that sodium is not a problem on the coast- however there are lots of other challenges that may make growing nutritious grass difficult. not least is the fact that a lot of coastal ground can be quite sandy and sandy soils have a harder job holding on to any nutrients. A lot of the coastal farms I go to are also involved in stewardship schemes or have links to the national trust which brings an awful lot of restrictions to the ways that soil fertility can be addressed. And of course its usually exposed to all that nature can throw which is going to wreak havoc with attempt to grow lush yumptious grass.A recent coastal farmer I visited told me it was like farming with one hand tied behind his back (on a good day). so while the soil might be nice and salty ( it could be TOO salty) and  it could be lacking in just about everything else.
As an add on, calcium is also hugely important in improving palatability so acidic soils low in calcium can also be lacking in flavour

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Applying sodium to pasture
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2013, 06:30:28 pm »
We're on the east coast - about 1 mile to the waves and our soil is sodium deficient. In fact it's everything deficient  ::) Our animals have access to mineral licks all year. If we put anything on the soil, it would wash away in a jif.

devonlad

  • Joined Nov 2012
  • Nr Crediton in Devon
Re: Applying sodium to pasture
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2013, 07:00:52 pm »
despite my day job we don't apply anything either-not for the same reasons as you rosemary as our soil has a good clay content is inland and should be reasonably good at holding applied nutrients for a while- but  partly because we already struggle to break even with our sheep and don't want the extra cost and mainly because access is pretty much impossible to machinery. i'm not shy of hard work but have yet to feel the urge to walk around the field as a human fertiliser spreader. working with fertiliser I am aware of all the things we could do  but prefer to keep stocking rate lower and supplement like rosemary with licks and occasional buckets

Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: Applying sodium to pasture
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2013, 10:04:26 am »
Yeah, I have rock salt lumps out and also mineral licks/drenches as appropriate, and I actually have no mechanical way of spreading anything on the fields at the mo anyway, so I would prefer not to if I could help it.  But unfort the sheep aren't eating the grass as they should, and they are eating more hay because of it so I need to apply something just to reduce my hay bill!

 

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