Is your pasture looking like a herd of elephants stampeded through it? Or are you cultivating a robust crop of weeds instead of proper forage for your horses?
Fall is the time to take care of those pastures, and start the process of reclaiming them for healthy fields of nutritious grass for your horses. Why fall?
Rain in the fall, plus snow over the winter, assures that any lime applied to the fields have a chance to leach in. The ground is generally not too hard in the fall, which allows the rain water to carry the lime with it down to the roots of the plants. And the fact that it will most likely be snow covered for months means both that the snow will continue that leaching process, and the ground will be insulated for a period from stamping, tromping hooves.
Now that you know when you should provide some tender loving care for your pasture, what exactly should you do?
Start with a soil test. The Cornell Cooperative Extension can provide this service for you, or you can do it yourself. Additionally, we would be happy to do it for you.
A probe will be used to extract samples from various areas of your pastures or hay fields, and the combined samples will provide a mix that can give an accurate picture of the health of your soil.
You will receive a report from the lab detailing the pH of your soil and what rate of limestone (lime) is needed to bring your soil up to the correct level for the pasture crops you are growing. Most horse grasses require a neutral (7.0) pH for healthy growth.
This soil sampling should be done every year so that you can determine just what affect the lime is having on your soil pH and remain on top of things.
With the trend towards organic, healthy solutions, lime is perfect for bringing your pastures to optimum health.
Lime is not a fertilizer, (many fertilizers are petroleum based, not the healthiest solution for the environment) lime is organic. The right application of lime to your pastures will make a dramatic difference for your horses and the environment.
You may not see an immediate difference if your pasture was severely depleted. But keep applying the lime every fall and soon the lush pasture of every horse’s dream will be yours!