Soil Erosion advice needed

Bury the Trash

Member
Mixed Farmer
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.
I dont have it in my flock.

The traditional approach here was to strike with the Orf vaccine, i dont miss that annual virus 'reintroduction event ' at all .
No, instead I changed one or two things and then I stopped it , horrible vaccine , fiddly time consuming job to do .

One spray is hardly a death run, one spray that's it.

Im also guessing that the bigtrouble could be for the op on the sheep tracks that are possibly there , that are worn into the side of the hill ...that's probably where most water gathers space and does damage harder to sort as well without cutting them of with fencing
but not to put too fine point on it, grazing management is key ( note to self ) .
 
Location
Ceredigion
You can farm with all sheep as your livestock without falling sheep sick
When you get your spring flush of grass then fields are taken out for mowing , grazing fields put on a strict rotation so they get a rest , growing fodder crops gives the grazing fields more time to recover and gives you the option to reseed , put a field of oats in, then you have your winter feed more or less sorted as well
 
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
Thanks for your advice. I won't plough.
 
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.
Thank you. Much appreciated.
 
Thanks everyone. Good advice. No ploughing, don't overgraze, soil test, rest field, fertilizer, reseed, possibly trample thistles/possibly spray/let them grow. Get fungi in the soil. :)
 

Bury the Trash

Member
Mixed Farmer
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
A spray is the only thing that I know will remove them fairly rapidly / predictably.
Not sure if the op is a tenant ,
as I'm actually comforted by the fact that my landlord has it written in that weeds are a no,no put simply, ( hopefully the agent knows what Chicory :love: running to seed .. is when he sees it :unsure::oops::ROFLMAO:..)
......comforted because at least I know that am I'm secure in the fact that rewilding isnt on their agenda (y) unlike some tenant s in some areas.
 

N.Yorks.

Member
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.

Probably best place to start is..... dig a hole (with a spade) to see if you can see how the soil feels and looks - is there a compacted zone? If there is then consider a pasture lifter to break compacted layer but only do when the soil is fairly dry and not saturated. If you did need to use a lifter drive it across the slope, not up and down. (This digging hole step is the bit that can tell you a lot before you start jumping around looking at solutions).

Then take care of stocking rates depending on grass availability and soil moisture - to not overgraze and stop poaching.

Well rotted farmyard manure (stuff that's heated up well to kill weed seeds) would also help with organic matter and nutrients to compliment what your soil analysis is telling you about fertiliser needs.

Once you've got the soil structure sorted and soil nutrient at the optimum levels then could consider stitching in new grass seed. Herbal leys have good potential to compete out weeds too, but that's another topic.....
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
A spray is the only thing that I know will remove them fairly rapidly / predictably.
Not sure if the op is a tenant ,
as I'm actually comforted by the fact that my landlord has it written in that weeds are a no,no put simply, ( hopefully the agent knows what Chicory :love: running to seed .. is when he sees it :unsure::oops::ROFLMAO:..)
......comforted because at least I know that am I'm secure in the fact that rewilding isnt on their agenda (y) unlike some tenant s in some areas.
Roger that.

I was under the impression the OP was more concerned about the soil erosion than the thistles; painting the barn might also give him something to do.
 

Bury the Trash

Member
Mixed Farmer
Roger that.

I was under the impression the OP was more concerned about the soil erosion than the thistles; painting the barn might also give him something to do.
No pikeys will do that for cash.

anyway he will be kept busy digging holes with the spade :ROFLMAO: .....and roughing up and down across the field with his new ( grant aid) purchased sward shifter on the back of Hes 6 1/2 tonne (at least) tractor.. (y):sneaky:
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
No pikeys will do that for cash.

anyway he will be kept busy digging holes with the spade :ROFLMAO: .....and roughing up and down across the field with his new ( grant aid) purchased sward shifter on the back of Hes 6 1/2 tonne (at least) tractor.. (y):sneaky:
Sorry if my reply sounded a bit snippy, but, FFS 🥴

Soil erosion only needs a bit of "conservation-mindedness" to remediate. Killin and rippin is only going to set the process back .
Hello another TFF advert-for-my-services thread 🙄
 

Bury the Trash

Member
Mixed Farmer
Sorry if my reply sounded a bit snippy, but, FFS 🥴

Soil erosion only needs a bit of "conservation-mindedness" to remediate. Killin and rippin is only going to set the process back .
Hello another TFF advert-for-my-services thread 🙄
If the op 's ' token' ? weed issue had been docks my reply would possibly 😬 have been different but that injurous nature of them thistles creepers , spears even .. is what I'm not over the moon about..yes they're not aliens but not welcomed with open arms either :sneaky:, even if they do deserve respect as a self protecting pioneer plant ....
Baring in mind I'm a sheep keeper :rolleyes: ...

But actually on the side of a steep? ( we dont actually know the gradient ) cattle are worse at carving steps , and they are the places for worst water damage...

tis a fine line between a ' regeneration ' as such and rewilding is all I'm conscious of these days.

Simplistically put Longer covers (which is what we' re after ) ....( and assuming as I have done from the start that productivity is part of the equation).... is better word s for it I guess.
 
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Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
If the op 's ' token' ? weed issue had been docks my reply would possibly 😬 have been different but that injurous nature of them thistles creepers , spears even .. is what I'm not over the moon about..yes they're not aliens but not welcomed with open arms either :sneaky:, even if they do deserve respect as a self protecting pioneer plant ....
Baring in mind I'm a sheep keeper :rolleyes: ...

But actually on the side of a steep? ( we dont actually know the gradient ) cattle are worse at carving steps , and they are the places for worst water damage...

tis a fine line between a ' regeneration ' as such and rewilding is all I'm conscious of these days.

Simplistically put Longer covers (which is what we' re after ) ....( and assuming as I have done from the start that productivity is part of the equation).... is better word s for it I guess.
Foxgloves are the big indicator species around here on the steeper stuff - really it's grazed well but the terrain limits just how much you can subdivide, so graze periods are quite long. Very few thistles, mainly nodding and scotch and winged thistles if you see them.

Rhizomatous thistles are more notable in "developed country", lots of contributors here but the most obvious ones: fertiliser and occasional regrassing; (usually via break crops and cultivation, both of which limit the extent of the AMF networks in the soil to provide for the pasture plants).

As you ramp those up, and get less diverse pasture mixes, then the docks become more prevalent (unless there's sheep).

I guess my point is that where you have a good cover of thistle, your sheep won't be overgrazing these areas unless forced, which is the big clue - don't have your sheep "tidying" and you don't need thorny and prickly plants trying to maintain cover.

You can do all this via a management change, and leave the weeds to do the job they're doing and fade out by themselves.
I definitely didn't mean that it needs stock excluded, just don't let them manage themselves too much over spring/summer.
 

Bury the Trash

Member
Mixed Farmer
Foxgloves are the big indicator species around here on the steeper stuff - really it's grazed well but the terrain limits just how much you can subdivide, so graze periods are quite long. Very few thistles, mainly nodding and scotch and winged thistles if you see them.

Rhizomatous thistles are more notable in "developed country", lots of contributors here but the most obvious ones: fertiliser and occasional regrassing; (usually via break crops and cultivation, both of which limit the extent of the AMF networks in the soil to provide for the pasture plants).

As you ramp those up, and get less diverse pasture mixes, then the docks become more prevalent (unless there's sheep).

I guess my point is that where you have a good cover of thistle, your sheep won't be overgrazing these areas unless forced, which is the big clue - don't have your sheep "tidying" and you don't need thorny and prickly plants trying to maintain cover.

You can do all this via a management change, and leave the weeds to do the job they're doing and fade out by themselves.
I definitely didn't mean that it needs stock excluded, just don't let them manage themselves too much over spring/summer.
and iirc foxgloves are poisonous .. so it's a good job they dont eat them ...
Creeping thistle( which will most likely be what the op has) dont actually creep much really unless them rhizomes are dragged out around :sneaky: ..keep the flowers off them and they just survive well but in their same local area for ...well for ever probably :oops: common on sheep walk or permanent pasture ( non sprayed :oops:)) situations, in those cases little ferts will necessarily be used either.
Thistles aside......
If it's a field or 2 then stop set stocking and move from field to field ( fences might need repair) quicker or if one big area then your electric fenc comes into play, and set him across sheep tracks if they are there to break that habit if possible. And allow those paths to cover .
 

Greg101

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Livestock Farmer
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Overgrazing will not be noticed right away around here. however one thing i noticed is that as soon as you try to fix things that is when you find out just how bad things really were. Don't expect everything to perfect right away, in fact expect it to see as tho u are making it worse in the first year, unless you look at the things that really make a difference, but once it does start to get better it will (provided you are doing it right) quickly gain momentum and suprise/relieve you.
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
Overgrazing will not be noticed right away around here. however one thing i noticed is that as soon as you try to fix things that is when you find out just how bad things really were. Don't expect everything to perfect right away, in fact expect it to see as tho u are making it worse in the first year, unless you look at the things that really make a difference, but once it does start to get better it will (provided you are doing it right) quickly gain momentum and suprise/relieve you.
That healing phase is so often "what kills it" for a lot of managers. It stops looking like a golf-course, grows flowers, and out comes the mower or the sprayer.
The odd thing is that there's this huge 'cover crop' movement in farming for building soil .... and weeds do it better, cheaper 🤷‍♂️
but as @Bury the Trash says perception counts for a lot.
Landlord says "no weeds", but it's ok to tip the field over and sow a crop of them (y) none so queer as folk!

Have you looked into "natural sequence farming"? Good bedtime reading.
 

N.Yorks.

Member
No pikeys will do that for cash.

anyway he will be kept busy digging holes with the spade :ROFLMAO: .....and roughing up and down across the field with his new ( grant aid) purchased sward shifter on the back of Hes 6 1/2 tonne (at least) tractor.. (y):sneaky:
Subtle!!

Was thinking along the lines that if the OP was getting a months worth of rain in 48hrs and the soil was heading downhill then swift intervention was on balance better than waiting a couple of seasons - hence pasture lifter.

Went for a swim with my kids in a Yorkshire reservoir last summer and the silt was pushing a meter deep, so trying to stand up in the shallows was impossible.... most of it must have been washed off the upstream hilly pastures - was very surprised.
 
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Greg101

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Livestock Farmer
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That healing phase is so often "what kills it" for a lot of managers. It stops looking like a golf-course, grows flowers, and out comes the mower or the sprayer.
The odd thing is that there's this huge 'cover crop' movement in farming for building soil .... and weeds do it better, cheaper 🤷‍♂️
but as @Bury the Trash says perception counts for a lot.
Landlord says "no weeds", but it's ok to tip the field over and sow a crop of them (y) none so queer as folk!

Have you looked into "natural sequence farming"? Good bedtime reading.
Natural sequence farming? never heard of it that I know of. how do I find it?
 

Rejuvenating swards: Which option is best?

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Written by Brian McDonnell

Maintaining grass quality during mid-season grazing is important. Farmers can maintain quality by entering ideal grazing covers of 1,300 – 1,500kg DM/ha, and grazing down to a residual of 4cm every rotation.

If you are now in a situation where cows are not cleaning out paddocks as well as they should be, leading to the development of steamy grass within the sward, here are some options.

Common options for rejuvenating swards include:

  1. Take a silage cut, probably into bales, remove the material and start again with the aftermath...
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