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Spinal Research



Pasture Management



-- Posted by Carole Smith on Oct. 19, 2001

I have about 8 acres and would like to know if the BHS or NFU produce a booklet on horse field maintenance?
My BIG bugbear is trying to keep on top of it all. I spray in May in dry weather but if I do my bigger field also I have nowhere to put my lot. However I must get it done next year as the ragwort is getting bad .... but after spraying ragwort takes about 5 weeks to finally rot away!! Also how often do people harrow and roll? Also if I get a topper to put behind the quad when should this be done? Also does anyone do a backend of the season spray and what if like now the fields are a bit wet? Help.

-- Posted by horsetalkuk  on Oct. 19, 2001

I have a couple of articles up on my site if that is of any help.

It's under the the following:-

There are also some website links  in the weblinks section

to several grass management articles.

-- Posted by JanetGeorge on 11:57 pm on Oct. 21, 2001

The BHS Grassland Management is very good value - lots of useful info and some good illustrations, particularly poisonous plants.  It's under a fiver and available at  (I'm quite pleased with it but then I did I edit and update it so I may not be totally unbiased!)

It's a bit late for a back-end spray because to work properly the plants need to be growing actively whereas most growth has slowed right down.  Can you electric fence a smallish area 1-2 acres for your neds in the spring (say early May and spray the balance then).  The ragwort will still be quite small and should rot away far more quickly and with a rest, the grass should shoot up at that time.  Unless there is a HUGE amount of ragwort, there is little or no chance that with grass growing well they will be interested in tiny dead remnants so 3 weeks should be safe.  You could then move them into the larger section and spray the small one - or top it and leave for at least six weeks (as ragwort will be bigger then and take longer to rot down.)  Then the following year, spray the small area first.  The large area should have little or no ragwort so pulling it wouldn't be such a pain.

I only harrow twice a year but then I have a high ratio of land to horses and have some cattle available to cross graze.  But don't rely on harrowing for worm control unless you can give fields a good long rest or graze them with sheep/cattle afterwards.

Topping can be done almost anytime it's needed.  For week control, the weeds should be growing strongly and quite mature (but not yet seeding.) Top them, and top any regrowth six weeks later.  For clearing up rough patches, it can be done almost any convenient, reasonably dry time and certainly before resting the field.

If you want to encourage rye based pastures to tiller out then topping every four to six weeks will really encourage dense growth.  Be aware though that it might also encourage more clover which is to be avoided for natives and ponies prone to laminitis.

Best time for rolling is spring and autumn, when the soil is moist but not wet - although if you have flotation tyres on a quad you can roll when it's quite wet if you're desperate to get rid of hoof prints.  But even a quad will cause soil compaction if it's too wet.  No point doing it at all when the ground is very dry.

-- Posted by Carole Smith on Oct. 22, 2001

Thank you all .I will study those articles but I have rather lost heart as my boy died on friday afternoon. However life goes on and am sure after a few days I will feel I owe it to him and the next one -hopefully - to get rid of the ragwort , even though that`s not what killed him.





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