Spring has (just about) sprung in the south and now is the time that I get busy giving grazing paddocks some tender loving care so they can see us through the summer months when the weather (and ground) is dryer. It’s the time of year when harrowing, rolling and seeding / feeding paddocks should be done as you do reap the benefits later in the year and means that the grazing will be plentiful through the summer. As you can see, we suffered from quite a wet winter this year so I shall be undertaking quite a lot of repair work to my own paddocks.
I use both mounted spring tine harrows and mounted chain harrows depending on the condition of the paddocks and what I want to achieve. Depending on which harrow you use (or both), harrowing removes any dead grass and thatch, breaks up the obligatory muddy lumps, smooths out winter hoof marks and gives the grass the best start in the spring without too much competition with the moss and weeds. It also means that those areas that have been badly poached (churned up) by horses gallivanting around get aerated and the divots and hoof marks smoothed to a certain degree.
I see people on a tractor or ATV chain harrowing at warp speed 9 and wondering why the harrow is just bouncing around. The design of chain harrows goes back hundreds of years to when they were pulled by horses – at a walking pace! I don’t advocate using chain harrows as a replacement for ‘poo picking’ in horse paddocks – it’s much more beneficial to collect the horse droppings on a daily basis than it is spread it around the paddock on a regular basis. There are also companies out there who will provide a harrowing service using horses!
There is a fine balance in the ground between being too damp and too dry for rolling, especially when using compact tractor sized rollers which don’t exert as much pressure as large rollers, even when filled with ballast. Rolling will reduce (not eliminate) the uneven ground caused by horse poaching but it will compact the soil rather than aerate the soil so causing water to sit on the top rather than soak away and poaching if you get a sudden spell of wet weather. If there is already some spring grass growth, then rolling the crowns or seeds of the grass to crush them encourages ‘spreading’ of the grass seeds and so maximises spring growth.
If the grass cover is patchy with areas of bare ground through poaching or wet weather, I will always reseed, as the cost is minimal and it can usually be done by hand in horse paddocks. I usually harrow the ground and seed it before rolling, as this helps the seeds to stick in the ground and promote growth. However, the paddock should then be put out of action until the grass has recovered, so it is also a perfect time to spray or treat any emerging weed growth. I usually get the seed delivered by pallet load, which makes transporting it around a lot easier!
I am happy to provide a harrowing and rolling service with a compact tractor than can be trailered to sites behind a 4×4. Please contact me for quotes and prices – firstname.lastname@example.org or see ACC Contracting Services & Products.
All the best,