Pasture has the potential to provide
1. The horses nutrition
2. A Safe exercise area
Potentials rarely achieved, often neglected
All information given here is believed to be correct but the author cannot be responsible for any consequences of it's use.
by Denis Lindsell
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You can sample the soil in your paddock and have it tested by a laboratory for pH and nutrient status. There
are testing kits available to test soils yourself but do not expect these to give you more than a rough guide.
These kits cannot compare to a laboratory analysis.
The laboratory that will be testing your sample may give you instructions on how to sample your paddock, and these
should be followed. In the absence of any instructions, use the following guidelines.
Reasons for a Sampling Technique
The soil sample you will send to a laboratory will be relatively small, possibly about a mug full. It will be necessary to follow a technique to ensure that this sample is representative of your paddock.
You will need a bucket to hold your soil, and a either a trowel or an auger to sample the soil to a depth of about
6" (150mm). You may be advised to use a tool that can be pushed in the ground to remove a core of soil but
satisfactory samples can be taken using a trowel.
You may have only one paddock that you wish to sample but it may contain more than one soil type. Before you start
sampling, look at the paddock for obvious changes. Part of the paddock may relatively flat while the rest has an
obvious slope, or there may be an obvious change grass species suggesting that part of the paddock is in-fact different
to the rest. Treat these areas if they were separate paddocks, then if the soil analyses are different, they can
be limed or fertilised separately. Obviously these areas need to be large enough to be worth treating separately.
Avoid areas where livestock may have congregated and their droppings and urine will have altered the nutrient status.
These areas will include the area just inside the gate, around a water trough, close to the field shelter, around
trees, or beside a hedge offering shelter.
Other areas to be avoided will possibly include the site of an old muckheap.
Do not sample within two months of applying fertiliser as this will give an unrepresentative result.
Walk on a zigzag pattern, taking samples from about 25 spots in the paddock. If using a trowel, first dig a hole
to the depth of the trowel, then use the trowel to take a thin slice off the side of the hole to a depth of about
6" (150mm), and put this in your bucket.
When you have done this in 25 spots, you are likely to have much more soil in your bucket than the laboratory will require. It is important that this soil should be mixed extremely well before removing the amount required. This is called sub-sampling.
This will depend on texture of your soil. As a rough guide, a light soil
should be tested every three years, and a medium to heavy soil every five years.