Preventing poached paddocks

The long dry summer has resulted in many paddocks suffering from a lack of grass cover, which will be a potential problem when the wet weather arrives.

A lack of an established grass base will lead to an increased likelihood of paddocks becoming poached, especially around the gate area. In an ideal world all owners would be able to rest their summer paddocks during the winter and spring to enable them to recover but unfortunately this is not always possible.

So what can you do to avoid those awful muddy gateways during the next few months?

Freelance agricultural contractor Gavin Strathern says: “Wet gateways are a persistent problem in winter, particularly if you are in an area with heavy, clay soil, which prevents the water from draining.

“There are two methods which can help you solve the problem. The first and most expensive solution is to put down a concrete pad in the gateway.

“Although this will prevent the gateway from becoming deep in mud it will cause the water to collect in a different area as it runs off the surface of the concrete. This needs to be taken into consideration.

“Alternatively, the cheaper option is to replace the soil in your gateway with a porous material.”

DIY solutions

  • Dig out 12in of the soil in the problem area
  • Lay a membrane (or a plastic sheet with lots of small holes), and refill the area with brick rubble or hardcore to about 2in below ground level
  • Place a binding material, such as hogin (a sand and gravel mix), on top, to leave a level, absorbent surface
  • Pack this top surface tightly, using a vibrating plate (these are available to hire from local tool-hire centres)
  • Improve drainage by digging a 2ft trench around the perimeter of the hard standing
  • Fill the trench with large stones to about 6in below ground level
  • Replace the topsoil until the ground is level
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