Sandy spots in paddock

Discussion in 'Horse Management' started by smc8_0, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. smc8_0

    smc8_0 New Member

    As summer is now in full swing, everything is dying off and copious amounts of WA sand is returning causing large sandy areas in our paddocks.

    Is there anything suitable to help stop further churning up and ground damage? I can fence the areas off but no doubt the horses will just go and find another spot to churn up! Straw as coverage?.... Wood chips? I don't have enough manure to cover the areas and don't fancy bringing in mature from elsewhere due to worms etc. Would they eat the wood chips and get sick if this was an option?

    Any ideas welcome!

    Thanks :)
  2. Blackbat

    Blackbat Well-known Member

    What is your long term plan for the paddock- soil improvement and pasture establishment, or keeping it sandy but trying to firm up the ground a little?

    If the former, I add as much organic matter as possible (hay roll waste, stable muck out, manure, newspaper) followed by seeding with annuals in autumn then planning your soil amendments and perennial pasture sowing in spring.

    If the latter, you could use left over straw too, or get a load of shredded greenwaste from somewhere like Mulchnet. Wood chips and mulch can be a fire hazard and attract those damn millepedes and is not fun to roll on, but its good for keeping dust down for traffic areas and cheaper then getting in limestone or road base.
  3. smc8_0

    smc8_0 New Member

    Thanks blackbat, in these areas more just keeping the dust down and stopping further degradation as it's traffic areas and the sand just keeps getting deeper. It's very fine sand like powder so I'm hoping the organic matter or something alike will help firm the soil up.
  4. ClubIgnite

    ClubIgnite Well-known Member

    Perhaps gravel if you aren't concerned with anything growing there? Yellow sand is a good option also
  5. SueC

    SueC New Member

    One thing you can do is restrict your horses to a smaller area that's already sandy and stop them damaging the rest of the paddock in those times of the year when ground cover is scarce. You can feed them in that area, and exercise them on firebreaks or trails. Horse toys like soccer balls may be helpful to keep them occupied while confined to a small area.

    Also, if you plant tagasaste hedges around your fenceline your horses will have something green and high-protein to nibble during the dry season. Tagasaste grows fast and easily but needs to be behind a hot wire to stop horses stripping their stems. 16-month-old tagasaste hedge here:

    Solar Hot Water Installation - Strawbale House Build in Redmond Western Australia | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    Anything you clip off the hedge can be used as high-protein stockfeed. That's why it's also known as "tree lucerne". You do have to lop the tops off these hedges and keep them below 2.5m high so they don't get spindly and overtall. These hedges also make an excellent wind shelter and offer shade in summer.

    Here is an 18-month-old tagasaste hedge around our donkey yard:

    Up Close and Personal - Redmond Western Australia | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    You can just see it in the background. Donkeys are even worse than horses for making sandy areas, so we have them in this yard between 6pm and 8am every day, then let them free range (with grazing muzzles on two of them because they are too fat) during the day. This way their digging is mostly confined to a small controlled area, but they still have a fun life.

    We bought 1000 bare-rooted tagasaste seedlings for $100, planted them in July 2011, and they all grew without any irrigation ever. If you run a trickle pipe through them in summer, they will produce massively; if not, they'll just slow up a little until the rain starts.

    You could also start irrigating some of your pasture and then rotationally grazing your horses on the irrigated pasture (fence into strips or use temporary electric fence). The important thing is to move horses on BEFORE they expose the ground. There should always be some cover left on the ground. In WA this is a challenging thing, especially north of Bunbury because of the short growing season. It's easier to protect land than rehabilitate it. Overstocking with horses literally creates deserts. It's one of the big environmental problems caused by horse lovers - but with thought and care the environmental impact of grazing horses can be minimised. Wishing you well in your venture.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2014
  6. kiraSpark

    kiraSpark Gold Member

    Where did you get your Tagasaste seedlings from? I see you are in Redmond, we are just up from you, in Narrikup :)
  7. SueC

    SueC New Member

    Hi Kira, we got our tagasaste seedlings from a fodder tree nursery in Bridgetown which has since closed, and they were couriered to us in two big yellow bags! :) This nursery has since closed down, but you can look up fodder tree nurseries on the Internet, and in rural publications like the Elders Weekly and other farming papers. There are various kinds of fodder trees available and you need to pick ones that suit your conditions. We're on comparatively sandy soils here and are successfully growing both tagasaste and Acacia saligna. Horses prefer the tagasaste, donkeys acacia, cattle like either, and the bees love the nectar and pollen - particularly as tagasaste flowers in their mid-winter feed gap.

    You can also grow them from seed; we have collected loads of seeds from them and, as you are in the neighbourhood, you are welcome to pick some up from us for free. Not sure they will perform as quickly as the bare-rooted, 6-month seedlings we planted, which never needed any watering after planting - the winter rain was enough for them to get the roots down before summer - but maybe worth a try. You'd probably have to grow them in cells. At the nursery they just pull out advanced seedlings from beneath tagasaste hedges and stick them in bags to send to customers.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2014
  8. kiraSpark

    kiraSpark Gold Member

    Thanks SueC, I'll keep that in mind! :)*

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