If you only do one thing, do this

Now is the time to do THE most important job on your pasture: Aerating.

Soil aeratingWe may all be aware or have heard that land is easily compacted by vehicular, stock and even human traffic. But why is this of concern?

It is very easy to ignore what’s going on in the soil – ‘out of sight, out of mind’ so to speak. But just like the foundations of a well-constructed house, or perhaps like the proverbial iceberg, what goes on ‘out of sight’ is of essential importance.

All plants, and in particular grasses require strong, sturdy roots to enable them to access nutrients and of course to anchor them to the ground. Regular aerating will encourage root growth and strength and help maximise root volume. And this is important as the more numerous, deep and strong the roots, the better the grass can access nutrients, and withstand both drought and flood. Aerating will also allow oxygen to penetrate down deep into the soil, and this encourages all the macro and micro-bacterial activity that keeps the whole eco-system that is soil in good heart.

As one horse livery owner, and a friend of GreenPaddocks, always says “if there was only one job I can do every year – it would be aerating: our paddocks have improved immeasurably since we started to aerate”.

Vital checklist from my Agronomist:

1. Aerating should be part of regular routine maintenance, not a question of shall we/shan’t we aerate this year.

2. Far more important to aerate than roll.

3. Helps create a denser sward which makes sure more water goes where it is needed – the grass roots.

4. Environmentally a good thing to do too as it reduces run-off – so less phosphate etc. goes into water courses (run-off being a big environmental problem as a whole).

5. A denser sward means that it is stronger and better able to withstand the punishment meted out by our equine friends…horses are notoriously bad for grassland – churning it up, compacting it, grazing it too tight and generally making a mess – allowing pernicious weeds to establish.

6. Proper regular maintenance = better/stronger grass = fewer weeds and a more robust, attractive environment.