Soil Erosion advice needed

We have a chalk field on a slope and in the last 5 or so years there has been increasing erosion and upheave. What can we do to stop it getting worse? There is a spring running underground nearby and it is grazed most of the year by sheep. It hasn't been reseeded for many years and thistles have started taking hold despite yearly topping around July. Any thoughts? Or any ideas where I can get good, unbiased proper advice? Many thanks.
 

The Ruminant

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Hertfordshire
Put simply, you need deep roots and lots of mycorrhizal fungi. (The latter gives off glomalin, which is a glue that sticks soil particles together really efficiently and effectively). You get both of these things by not overgrazing and by allowing plants time to recover.

Thistles and soil erosion are normally signs of overgrazing.
 
Location
Ceredigion
Whatever you do don't plough it .
I would get a soil test 1st
Are you into sprays - if you are then thistle is quite easy to kill - then if yiu want to introduce some new stuff either overseed or go for a full reseed with a direct drill
If its drought prone then go for a deep rooting drought resistant mix
 

Bury the Trash

Member
Mixed Farmer
grazing too tight for too long will bare to soil/ throttle plants weaken rooting,
over grazing is a big no,no.

Keep them off it in late autumn,winter early spring particularly if wet. or periods of high rainall in summer, allow, first thing to do is let vegetation that's there to grow taller and it will thicken naturally.

spray the thistles., thistlex is good.

Common sense really doesnt need a special holistic section :rolleyes: or a fancy regen name tag...(y)
 
Location
Ceredigion
grazing too tight for too long will bare to soil/ throttle plants weaken rooting,
over grazing is a big no,no.

Keep them off it in late autumn,winter early spring particularly if wet. or periods of high rainall in summer, allow, first thing to do is let vegetation that's there to grow taller and it will thicken naturally.

spray the thistles., thistlex is good.

Common sense really doesnt need a special holistic section :rolleyes: or a fancy regen name tag...(y)
And I know an old farmer who sells the fungus
 
spray them. they can encourge orf . which is awful.

My reconing is that its over grazed, so its going to take some decent rest period to get stronger grass back that rest period will help the thistles ...spray when the timing is right next spring .
Sure is, have it in my flock.

Vaccinate the sheep.

Still don't spray them. Spray kills sh!t loads of things that want to help the land.
 
What we used to do every so often was reseeding by mixing grass seed with fertiliser then immediately after sowing go over with chain harrows followed by water filled roller at very steady speed
 

Flat 10

Member
Location
Fen Edge
Good call.

Therefore, common sense says that thistles will fix the soil problem, given time - and that having sheep on it most of the year is the root of the problem.

Rest will do a lot more good than anything that can go through a spray-pump can
I get thistles have good roots and will improve the soil. How will you then get rid of the thistles? Mob grazing? Seen thistles get hellish thick but cattle would trample them? Seems hard to believe, but I’m interested. Personally I would spray them but agree about not overgrazing.
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
I get thistles have good roots and will improve the soil. How will you then get rid of the thistles? Mob grazing? Seen thistles get hellish thick but cattle would trample them? Seems hard to believe, but I’m interested. Personally I would spray them but agree about not overgrazing.
They disappear over time - you'll always have a few thistles on a grass landscape, few things are surer than this! But the difference between our pastures, and those with sheep on all year, are like night and day. Especially if you care to try and dig a hole at the neighbour's!
Screenshot_20201101-082618_Gallery.jpg

This is 3 days after I took our mob out, and the neighbour moved his to another section.
Screenshot_20201101-082529_Facebook.jpg

this was a photo a local grazing coach took a couple of years back, to show what we are up against in terms of thistle health.
The key is to make sure the pasture is as healthy as "the weeds are" because when you think about it, the thistle rhizome is like the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, when it comes to leached soluble nutrients.

A grass pasture is only on the first step as far as diversity goes, even if the seed man puts 14 different ryegrasses and a cupful of Lofa in the bag 🙄 it's still simple, for "simple management" reasons. But the landscape needs more 'wood' in it, it needs brown litter sources like spent grass stalks, docks and thistles, in the absence of trees and scrubby plants that catch silica from the wind and feed it into the soil microbiome.
As we shift to more manicured pastures, the silica cycle goes virtually non-existent, in spite of the fact most soils are made of silica and aluminium the two are locked so tightly together that the Si isn't available.
Add a dribble of acid-based fertiliser and suddenly you create a cascade of free Al to kill the microbiology, but the silica remains bound, and suddenly those glues lose their grip and the soil particles begin to break down and compaction starts.

This is where the thistles/woody weeds like goldenrod etc come into play, as you say @Flat 10 they do have a powerful enough root to bust that "chemical pan" that the free Al in the soil solution is causing, but also the stickiness to capture plenty of dust and transfer it to the surface as they die down.

But, here's a thing - on the left side of those photos, Spicer's paddock is HARD as fudge, there is maybe 4 inches of turf and it is like young brick below that. It isn't superphosphate+lime that has done that, just purely overgrazing during the peak growing season.
We're talking several hundred psi on the penetrometer, no roots below 6 inches.

Jump on our side, rod goes straight in, it will maybe hit 100psi if you shove it in fast but more like 80-90psi.
Soil structure... partly due to rotational grazing but also due to deeper roots - and thistles that I don't dislike.
When you plough a lot of land, thistle patches are usually where you can hook a higher gear or change range. (rushes and sedge grasses, are usually where you change back down) but air in the soil is vital to reducing erosion.
 

Flat 10

Member
Location
Fen Edge
They disappear over time - you'll always have a few thistles on a grass landscape, few things are surer than this! But the difference between our pastures, and those with sheep on all year, are like night and day. Especially if you care to try and dig a hole at the neighbour's!View attachment 917779
This is 3 days after I took our mob out, and the neighbour moved his to another section.View attachment 917780
this was a photo a local grazing coach took a couple of years back, to show what we are up against in terms of thistle health.
The key is to make sure the pasture is as healthy as "the weeds are" because when you think about it, the thistle rhizome is like the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, when it comes to leached soluble nutrients.

A grass pasture is only on the first step as far as diversity goes, even if the seed man puts 14 different ryegrasses and a cupful of Lofa in the bag 🙄 it's still simple, for "simple management" reasons. But the landscape needs more 'wood' in it, it needs brown litter sources like spent grass stalks, docks and thistles, in the absence of trees and scrubby plants that catch silica from the wind and feed it into the soil microbiome.
As we shift to more manicured pastures, the silica cycle goes virtually non-existent, in spite of the fact most soils are made of silica and aluminium the two are locked so tightly together that the Si isn't available.
Add a dribble of acid-based fertiliser and suddenly you create a cascade of free Al to kill the microbiology, but the silica remains bound, and suddenly those glues lose their grip and the soil particles begin to break down and compaction starts.

This is where the thistles/woody weeds like goldenrod etc come into play, as you say @Flat 10 they do have a powerful enough root to bust that "chemical pan" that the free Al in the soil solution is causing, but also the stickiness to capture plenty of dust and transfer it to the surface as they die down.

But, here's a thing - on the left side of those photos, Spicer's paddock is HARD as fudge, there is maybe 4 inches of turf and it is like young brick below that. It isn't superphosphate+lime that has done that, just purely overgrazing during the peak growing season.
We're talking several hundred psi on the penetrometer, no roots below 6 inches.

Jump on our side, rod goes straight in, it will maybe hit 100psi if you shove it in fast but more like 80-90psi.
Soil structure... partly due to rotational grazing but also due to deeper roots - and thistles that I don't dislike.
When you plough a lot of land, thistle patches are usually where you can hook a higher gear or change range. (rushes and sedge grasses, are usually where you change back down) but air in the soil is vital to reducing erosion.
Thanks for sharing your views. Not sure I subscribe to the silica bit but fascinating nevertheless. 👍
 

In conversation with a soil health pioneer

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In conversation with a soil health pioneer

Written by Janet Hughes



https://www.buzzsprout.com/1657363/8311877-janet-hughes-and-gabe-brown-the-six-principles-of-soil-health.mp3

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