Dairy producers are being urged to assess soil structure and paddock damage in light of the wet weather.

DairyCo extension officer Piers Badnell warns that although fields may appear waterlogged, there could be soil damage preventing water draining away.

He said: “I was on a farm recently that like many, has been experiencing record amounts of rain. We walked the paddocks to get a good idea of the grazing situation. The majority of paddocks were in a reasonably good state, but a couple, where cows had been on several times and on the worst wet days, were showing signs of potential soil damage and need an eye kept on them.

“In one of these paddocks we found it was very wet in the top 10cm or so of soil, with water obviously not draining away. We wanted to find out if the whole soil was water logged so dug a deeper hole and at about 30cm deep we found a plough pan, the field had been wheat last year and was put into grass last September. Below this pan the soil was dry.”

We walked the paddocks to get a good idea of the grazing situation. The majority of paddocks were in a reasonably good state, but a couple, where cows had been on several times and on the worst wet days, were showing signs of potential soil damage and need an eye kept on them.”
Piers Badnell

He said producers facing a similar situation should keep an eye on these fields and check again in September to see if the conditions were the same; possible courses of action include using a sward lifter to break the pan and improve drainage for next year.

“In certain soils worm activity may work to rectify the situation, or in clay soils a bit of wet and dry may help. If not, it’s worth thinking about a slit aerater to break the pan and get the soil working again,” he added.

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