"Improving Our Lot" - Planned Holistic Grazing, for starters..

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
It will be interesting to see how the old fence lines stand out in years to come
The worst bit is that a couple of them have been shifted across, and the fencelines look to have been given a tickle with a bulldozer both times... then because they've been worked up, there are some good steps.

Tempting to smooth them out a little, but not really worth doing in the grand scheme of things. Twill save me putting up speed limit signs.

Where we grazed across fencelines in the winter, you'd be pressed to tell where the fences were now, but the gateways will need a load of soil each.
20210208_185751.jpg

Not really looking any worse for wear for all that
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
we can still see the old hedge lines, taken out pre 1970., sometimes there's a definite soil change between the two fields, did they leave/plant hedges where soil type changed. Even after that length of time, we still get subsidence, where they 'buried' the roots. We have a photo of an old map, original, sewn on canvas, 'in store' in museum, clearly marking the field boundaries, then, and many are still here, the names of fields are virtually the same now, as then.
 

Guleesh

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Isle of Skye
As an ex fencer, son of a fencer, there is something quite "eerie" about taking down another man's construction... right down to knowing which end they started from, and which way they went when attaching the netting.
Good old fence though, probably erected in 1951 as far as we can tell from old photographs, so 70 years here and hopefully another 50 at my mate's place.
Ah, I started out solo as a fencing contractor when I was 18/19 yo and spent the following 16 years at it. Still doing the odd job but thankfully I've almost escaped it.

I know exactly what you mean and have spent more days than I care to remember thinking by whom and how a fence was put up as I was dismantling it.
 

Samcowman

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Wiltshire
Sounds good solid advice.

My main worry is I'm all year round calving; kicking out a 10,000+ litre dairy cow in peak lactation, and asking her to eat stemmy grass may be a recipe for disaster...?

So I'm wondering if the solution is split into a highs and lows group, and just do mob grazing for the lows?
Just doing the lows on a new system is safer to fail than going in with both feet.
 

bendigeidfran

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Cei newydd
we can still see the old hedge lines, taken out pre 1970., sometimes there's a definite soil change between the two fields, did they leave/plant hedges where soil type changed. Even after that length of time, we still get subsidence, where they 'buried' the roots. We have a photo of an old map, original, sewn on canvas, 'in store' in museum, clearly marking the field boundaries, then, and many are still here, the names of fields are virtually the same now, as then.
20200307_160903.jpg

Guess were an old hedge used to be?
Father in law bought the land and made a bigger field, still only 4ac.
DD a grass red and white clover plantain and chicory ley in may 19, this photo taken 10 march 20. It was rested from late october, either side of the old hedge was waterloged.
20200307_165217.jpg

Need to get the water cycle going is one of my main things i need to do.
Only grass and rushes will grow for now until i can improve things.
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
our place is criss-crossed with drains and ditches, from about 1500 BC, or so they tell me, archeologists ought to know.
in one valley field, drains keep silting up, to my certain knowledge, the drain has been renewed 3 times, and patched up a time or two, causing a real problem, waterlogging about 3 acres, dug a shallow small ditch, 10/12 ins deep, just to try and dry the ground out, that was 4 years ago, the very temporary fix, sorted the job out, and still working. One really has to admire those 'old' folk, that worked it all out, several times when we have 'tried' to alter the course of some drains, it doesn't work. And for the poor lads, that had to dig them by hand !
But, how does drains and ditches, fit in with 'regen', it's weird to think half the world desperate to save moisture, the other half desperately tries to get rid of it ! We have water popping up all over the farm, and yet, in summer we dry out. Two dry days with that east wind, we were hauling muck out across a kale field, with no trouble, that was so wet last week, we took the cattle off it. And they say, farmers are never satisfied.
Or do you just count drainage as a 'tool', like fert, spray etc ?
 
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Crofter64

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Quebec, Canada
cut off 1 sidewall, drill tight hole, to push pipe in, and concrete on a hard base, sounds dead easy, whether it is that simple, time will tell ! Some use postcrete, or readycrete, ram in the centre tightly, and fill trough with water. I have located some large tyres, out the quarries, free, so if it works, with a trial using cement, will do several, and get couple of cube readymix, trial and error. Some of these tyres will hold up to 800 gallons water. We are on our own supply.
I tried to drill through the sidewall of a tractor tire for a project. It was reenforced and made a mess of drill bit - I had to change my plan. worked out just fine .
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
our place is criss-crossed with drains and ditches, from about 1500 BC, or so they tell me, archeologists ought to know.
in one valley field, drains keep silting up, to my certain knowledge, the drain has been renewed 3 times, and patched up a time or two, causing a real problem, waterlogging about 3 acres, dug a shallow small ditch, 10/12 ins deep, just to try and dry the ground out, that was 4 years ago, the very temporary fix, sorted the job out, and still working. One really has to admire those 'old' folk, that worked it all out, several times when we have 'tried' to alter the course of some drains, it doesn't work. And for the poor lads, that had to dig them by hand !
But, how does drains and ditches, fit in with 'regen', it's weird to think half the world desperate to save moisture, the other half desperately tries to get rid of it ! We have water popping up all over the farm, and yet, in summer we dry out. Two dry days with that east wind, we were hauling muck out across a kale field, with no trouble, that was so wet last week, we took the cattle off it. And they say, farmers are never satisfied.
Or do you just count drainage as a 'tool', like fert, spray etc ?
I suppose getting air into overly-wet soil is no different to putting water onto overly dry soil via irrigation.
Personally, different here, I would rather store what I can at depth, than see it run off the farm and down a drain.
Or in a dam, a tank, a tree or a cow.. "grass only" is quite a limiting thing, especially if you take that grass away and wrap it up in the springtime, summer will be dry.
(But not so dry it will kill a sugar-willow, so I'll grow feed that to the herd and if not required it can give the pasture more shade)

Interesting question though, I'm certainly not going to 😱😱😱😱 at anyone putting a drain in, but I would also consider simply excluding a wet area from grazing in the wet and think "drought reserve" for when summer eats the grass
 
our place is criss-crossed with drains and ditches, from about 1500 BC, or so they tell me, archeologists ought to know.
in one valley field, drains keep silting up, to my certain knowledge, the drain has been renewed 3 times, and patched up a time or two, causing a real problem, waterlogging about 3 acres, dug a shallow small ditch, 10/12 ins deep, just to try and dry the ground out, that was 4 years ago, the very temporary fix, sorted the job out, and still working. One really has to admire those 'old' folk, that worked it all out, several times when we have 'tried' to alter the course of some drains, it doesn't work. And for the poor lads, that had to dig them by hand !
But, how does drains and ditches, fit in with 'regen', it's weird to think half the world desperate to save moisture, the other half desperately tries to get rid of it ! We have water popping up all over the farm, and yet, in summer we dry out. Two dry days with that east wind, we were hauling muck out across a kale field, with no trouble, that was so wet last week, we took the cattle off it. And they say, farmers are never satisfied.
Or do you just count drainage as a 'tool', like fert, spray etc ?
If water hangs around and stagnates anaerobic conditions will form in soil which means bad stuff happens there, or if soil is waterlogged part of the year and maybe relatively not waterlogged the rest of the year that's not much good either. Sometimes - man made? - drainage is necessary to prevent or lessen those scenarios.

To hold water in a beneficial way keeping soil aerobic, soil would need protection in the form of living plant cover or litter of some kind to reduce/prevent evaporation. Then the soil should have the right biology in it to build structure, structure will hold water, allowing it to infiltrate and move through the soil profile more slowly. Less of the flood/drought scenario in well structured soil. But, well structured soil won't exist in anaerobic conditions.

Or so I am told :unsure:
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
If water hangs around and stagnates anaerobic conditions will form in soil which means bad stuff happens there, or if soil is waterlogged part of the year and maybe relatively not waterlogged the rest of the year that's not much good either. Sometimes - man made? - drainage is necessary to prevent or lessen those scenarios.

To hold water in a beneficial way keeping soil aerobic, soil would need protection in the form of living plant cover or litter of some kind to reduce/prevent evaporation. Then the soil should have the right biology in it to build structure, structure will hold water, allowing it to infiltrate and move through the soil profile more slowly. Less of the flood/drought scenario in well structured soil. But, well structured soil won't exist in anaerobic conditions.

Or so I am told :unsure:
would be interesting to see what conditions were like pre human interference, there must have been a 'problem' for the drains to be put there, 2 fields across, still up on top, there was an ironage village, that would be our driest ground, and contains the remains of a dewpond, and two very old stone drains. As now, farming is a gamble against the weather, more so for those past farmers, produce or starve, so any increase in production would be welcome, hence the land was improved, we take those improvements, as normal, and add to them, however, farming now, as then, is not so different, we cope today, by importing 40+% of our food, yet twice in the last century, we have faced severe food shortages. It's a pretty stupid thing for our guv, to go full bore at reducing carbon in the UK, and by the way of doing it, reduce food production, yet happily rely on imports, from across the globe, where carbon means diddleysquat.
 

holwellcourtfarm

Member
Livestock Farmer
would be interesting to see what conditions were like pre human interference, there must have been a 'problem' for the drains to be put there, 2 fields across, still up on top, there was an ironage village, that would be our driest ground, and contains the remains of a dewpond, and two very old stone drains. As now, farming is a gamble against the weather, more so for those past farmers, produce or starve, so any increase in production would be welcome, hence the land was improved, we take those improvements, as normal, and add to them, however, farming now, as then, is not so different, we cope today, by importing 40+% of our food, yet twice in the last century, we have faced severe food shortages. It's a pretty stupid thing for our guv, to go full bore at reducing carbon in the UK, and by the way of doing it, reduce food production, yet happily rely on imports, from across the globe, where carbon means diddleysquat.
Actually, if we allow our climate to change unchecked, we risk our agriculture collapsing. We HAVE to do something about our fossil fuel habit.

Globalisation of food production has "smoothed out" the risk of a crop failure on any one continent so far. Now, however, we've done so much damage that the climate is changing everywhere. Global food sourcing is no longer a guarantee of supply.

We urgently need to become resilient in our daily lives as individuals, citizens and a country. Trouble is, everyone has a different take on what "resilience" means.

For most of us on this thread it means less reliant on bought inputs and more tolerant of weather extremes.

For the global trading community it means having the financial muscle to outbid everyone else for what we need if it's scarce.

Diametrically opposite paradigms!
 

martian

DD Moderator
BASE UK Member
Location
N Herts
There's an assumption that the wise old farmers knew what they were doing in the olden days, but you've only to read Dirt by David Montgomery, to realise the damage that was done...the Land of Milk and Honey in the Bible was turned to desert by ancient farmers doing it wrong, ditto the North African breadbaskets of Libya and Tunis destroyed by greedy Romans and on it goes. Those guys were taking carbon out of the soil, we need to put it back.

Anyway, I've been enjoying myself this winter blocking ditches, where appropriate, and allowing floodwater across meadows. Boy, does it green the grass up! You've got to pick your spot, but there is something very satisfying about stopping the water from leaving via a ditch, as well as filtering the silt out
 

holwellcourtfarm

Member
Livestock Farmer
There's an assumption that the wise old farmers knew what they were doing in the olden days, but you've only to read Dirt by David Montgomery, to realise the damage that was done...the Land of Milk and Honey in the Bible was turned to desert by ancient farmers doing it wrong, ditto the North African breadbaskets of Libya and Tunis destroyed by greedy Romans and on it goes. Those guys were taking carbon out of the soil, we need to put it back.

Anyway, I've been enjoying myself this winter blocking ditches, where appropriate, and allowing floodwater across meadows. Boy, does it green the grass up! You've got to pick your spot, but there is something very satisfying about stopping the water from leaving via a ditch, as well as filtering the silt out
I feel a farm walk coming on (once restrictions are lifted). 😉 :ROFLMAO:
 
would be interesting to see what conditions were like pre human interference, there must have been a 'problem' for the drains to be put there, 2 fields across, still up on top, there was an ironage village, that would be our driest ground, and contains the remains of a dewpond, and two very old stone drains. As now, farming is a gamble against the weather, more so for those past farmers, produce or starve, so any increase in production would be welcome, hence the land was improved, we take those improvements, as normal, and add to them, however, farming now, as then, is not so different, we cope today, by importing 40+% of our food, yet twice in the last century, we have faced severe food shortages. It's a pretty stupid thing for our guv, to go full bore at reducing carbon in the UK, and by the way of doing it, reduce food production, yet happily rely on imports, from across the globe, where carbon means diddleysquat.
Humans brought a problem in the shape of the plough. Even the most rudimentary plough caused compaction, maybe only a couple of inches down, and subsequently erosion. Back in Greek times Plato commented on erosion, it took a long time back then as they didn't have the helpful technology to plough often. So land would have looked very, very different to the first humans than to us now. Or look at the settlers in America, and their astonishment of the fertility of the land, and what the ended up doing to it, wore it out ploughing, growing tobacco etc. So, I reckon a lot of problems were man made, which they did their best at the time to remedy though drainage, but that was addressing a symptom, not the root cause. Pre man, pre disturbance, Nature would have had structure in the soil, which does a lot of great things like slow water down but not turn it to swamp, hold nutrients, aerate soil etc.
 
There's an assumption that the wise old farmers knew what they were doing in the olden days, but you've only to read Dirt by David Montgomery, to realise the damage that was done...the Land of Milk and Honey in the Bible was turned to desert by ancient farmers doing it wrong, ditto the North African breadbaskets of Libya and Tunis destroyed by greedy Romans and on it goes. Those guys were taking carbon out of the soil, we need to put it back.

Anyway, I've been enjoying myself this winter blocking ditches, where appropriate, and allowing floodwater across meadows. Boy, does it green the grass up! You've got to pick your spot, but there is something very satisfying about stopping the water from leaving via a ditch, as well as filtering the silt out
I have his book but not had the time to read it yet, he does a good talk here though

 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
There's an assumption that the wise old farmers knew what they were doing in the olden days, but you've only to read Dirt by David Montgomery, to realise the damage that was done...the Land of Milk and Honey in the Bible was turned to desert by ancient farmers doing it wrong, ditto the North African breadbaskets of Libya and Tunis destroyed by greedy Romans and on it goes. Those guys were taking carbon out of the soil, we need to put it back.

Anyway, I've been enjoying myself this winter blocking ditches, where appropriate, and allowing floodwater across meadows. Boy, does it green the grass up! You've got to pick your spot, but there is something very satisfying about stopping the water from leaving via a ditch, as well as filtering the silt out
I think that's where "biomimicry" as a grazier's decision-maker can become a flaw.

Sure, we need to be mindful of the past, or we cannot improve far without accepting mistakes - but we need to abandon a bit of "what we think might have happened" and just manage for what we want our outcomes to be.
We may want various outcomes at a particular point in time, (as @Bowland Bob just brought my attention back to the loooong Dick Richardson video) there is as point trying to fatten lambs in buffalo territory as there is trying to outwinter big moos on lamb feed.

Recipes are good for toast
 

Early moves to target wild oats

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Growers and agronomists now face the dilemma of an early application to remove competition from emerged wild oats, or holding off to allow more weeds to germinate.

Syngenta grassweeds technical manager, Georgina Wood, urges Axial Pro treatment as soon as conditions allow, once weeds are actively growing.

“That offers the chance to control wild oats more cost effectively at lower rates, whilst there is still the flexibility to tailor application rates up to 0.82 l/ha for larger or over wintered weeds and difficult situations.

“The variability of crops and situations this season means decisions for appropriate Axial Pro rates and application techniques will need to be made on a field-by-field basis,” she advised.

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Miss Wood urges...
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