23 August 2002

Limit poaching trouble

HEAVY rain this grazing season could result in lasting damage to pastures through poaching.

But steps can be taken to cut damage, advises the Northern Irelands Dept of Agriculture and Rural Development.

DARD warns against rolling pastures to level poached areas, as it leaves soil more susceptible to poaching after the next shower of rain. "Rolling compacts soil, reducing air pockets which aid drainage. It also weakens soil structure and restricts root growth.

"Normal field activities, such as grazing, sowing fertiliser and topping, will help to level out all but the most severe ruts," it says.

Deterioration in soil structure caused by puddling and compaction of top soil during wet spells is usually relieved by shrinkage and cracking as soil dries out during sunny weather, adds DARD. "But in a year such as this, where there is limited soil drying, consider using a spiked aerator or subsoiler when soil is able to crack and crumble." &#42