September 11, 2008

Pugging ruins soil structure

The worst possible thing you can do to your pastures when the ground is saturated is to allow stock to pug them. This is a major concern during winter in most parts of New Zealand with its light volcanic soils and heavy rainfall.

In the past, although farmers never liked pugging their paddocks, they always believed that in a few days when a green tinge appeared, that all would be well, and pastures would be back to full production in a few weeks. But recent research has shown that pastures and soils do not recover quickly.

Pugging pastures damages the delicate crumb structure of the soil which carries the air in the soil, and it could take up to nine months before this is restored and production back to normal. Indeed in some cases, where pastures have been turned into brown porridge, researchers cannot say how long that damage will take to repair – if it ever does.

Every hectare of a farm is precious, and farmers need to take special care and know what to do to avoid pugging damage in wet spells in winter. It's important to have an area where stock can be held off pasture during very wet spells, and to know when they should be removed.

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