4 August 2000


PRODUCERS can gain the benefits of grazing under marginal conditions with a track design costing just £1.50/m (45p/ft), according to Teagasc trials.

James OLoughlin said tracks allowed improved use of pasture, could help extend the grazing season and keep cows clean. But they need not be expensive.

Tracks which had been successfully used at Kilmaley, Co Clare, on a wet farm, had been laid on top of grass without any excavation work.

"Avoiding digging down to run tracks flush to stop them holding water on the surface," said Mr OLoughlin.

For the tracks, he suggested laying brittle or round stone at a depth of 10-15cm (4-6in) in dry conditions and packing it with a hired vibrating roller. Then a blind of softer stone or stone dust – a by-product of chipping – is laid on top of the rough surface and vibrated down. When tracks are made 1.25-1.5m (4-5ft) wide they cost about £1.50/m (45p/ft).

Producers can lay these tracks at their own pace, as there is no need for contractors, unlike when building a roadway.

"Once you get the first cows on the track the others follow; after a couple of times they know they will go to fresh grass. But the electric fence needs to be well powered to keep them on the track."

While it was wise to consider carefully where tracks were needed, the design of these tracks meant they could be ploughed in to change use of fields, added Mr OLoughlin. &#42

After rolling down stone, a softer stone or stone dust blind is laid.

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