Milk from forage, forage grown/hectare, healthy soil and removing compaction are all linked especially on heavy soils. Water is imperative to growth but too much leads to poor root structure and less tonnes grown/ha. I’ve grown up on a predominantly heavy clay farm at the base of a significant hill, so water table and compaction are very evident on crop performance and silage quality.
Like with many things achieving performance/success is multi factorial but like the pH in a Rumen, the pH in the soil or unhealthy soils can really hurt your bottom line. Whether you are Dairy, Beef or Arable, your success in farming actually, is how well you manage the soil.
Mole Ploughing – > Land Drains – > Ditches + Gravity to Create drag
To harness the sea/land, the Dutch or the Somerset levels have sluice gates, Dykes, drains and regular maintenance to utilise land effectively. The above diagram depicts a trench including a permeable pipe surrounded by gravel and then topsoil. These feed into dug ditches via gravity. It is essential that a spirit level is used when installing piping for them to work. This can be done by private contractors or hiring a digger + spirit level.
A mole plough is then used every 3 years during the Autumn pulling a mole through the soil and into the gravel section above the drainage pipe. In clay soils a mole channel is made which due to the nature of the soil moulds allowing an exit for water. In the winter this allows a quick outlet of water, but in the summer, we can block the drain ends to allow water to back up and therefore hold water in the ground for the crop. This is like the sluice gate being left higher up in the summer in Somerset to retain moisture.
If you want to know more, please contact Wesley at firstname.lastname@example.org or your local FCG Office.