September 6, 2012
Aerating And Seeding For Better Hay
Because I have five horses and three miniature donkeys, it’s crucial that I have a steady and reliable supply of hay. When I moved to my farm in Bedford, three separate areas were designated as hay fields and they were planted with a desirable hay field mixture of timothy, orchardgrass, Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass, and clovers. Hay production was going quite well until a couple of years ago when certain unwanted noxious weeds began to take hold. One weed, in particular, grows spiny thorns that no mammal would want to ingest. We are now in the process of hopefully eradicating those weeds. Soil samples have been taken to see what organic fertilizers, if any, should be used next spring. We were also advised by our friends at Compostwerks that now would be an excellent time to aerate and seed the hay fields and run-in paddock. Aeration is important, as it loosens compacted soil, increases oxygen into the soil, and allows for better water penetration. And applying desirable seed may help to choke out those noxious weeds.
1 This is one of the three hay fields at the farm where we are having a problem with noxious weeds. Noxious weeds have been affecting high quality hay production.
2 The hay was cut and baled early in the summer, but no one was happy with it. The hay fields were recently mowed in preparation for aeration and seeding.
3 This machine is an aerator.
4 As the aerator runs over the field, these finger-like tines push into the soil, digging out plugs of dirt.
5 Before starting the aeration process, Dominick filled the water tank, which weighs the apparatus down, making it work more efficiently.
6 Dominick started the job by driving across the first field from north to south.
7 Autumn is an excellent time to aerate and seed.
8 Dominick stopped the tractor to show how the tines collect soil plugs.
9 The soil plugs - Aeration loosens compacted soil by poking holes into the field.
10 This process increases oxygen to the hay roots and provides better air circulation.
11 It also allows water to penetrate and carry nutrients into the soil.
12 After traveling north to south, Dominick then aerated from east to west.
13 Going in all directions, ensures a thorough penetration of soil.
14 When Dominick was finished aerating the hay fields, he needed to mow the run-in paddock before it, too, could be aerated.
15 So, he removed the aerator and hooked up the mower.
16 After the mowing was complete, he reattached the aerator and passed it over the run-in.
17 As with the other fields, he criss-crossed in all directions.
18 With the aeration complete, it was time to seed. For the hay fields, we chose a mixture having a high percentage timothy and orchardgrass because they make for a better hay product.
19 For the paddock, in addition to orchardgrass and timothy, the percentage of ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass was increased because that is better for summer grazing.
20 To seed the edges of the hay fields, paddock, and around trees, Phurba filled the hand-pushed broadcast spreader.
21 For the large areas, Dominick attached the large broadcast seeder-spreader to the John Deere.
22 And off he went.
23 I certainly hope that all this effort will help the hay.