Re-thinking what “preparing the soil for seeding” might mean.

For many decades American farmers, and that included horse farm managers, shared the same vision when it came to pasture seeding or preparing the land to seed a or overseed. In the old days the first step was plowing. Now we know that it is often better to take a “no-till” approach, leaving some ground cover to hold the soil and protect from erosion

The old adage “you can’t have too much lime” this one is a bit like the famous “you can never be too rich or too thin” quote from Wallis Simpson. Both  are great sound bites but neither  are accurate. A generation of anorexic fashionistas, some of whom have literally starved themselves to death have proven the error of the later and modern soil scientists are starting to prove the fallacy of the former as well.

In fact you can have too much lime, particularly if you use the wrong kind of lime (we discussed this in a previous blog). Applying lime to your pasture can sometimes be likened to eating a candy bar. You may have a sudden burst of energy just as your pasture may experience a 2-3 year period where it greens up faster and better – but just as you will experience a drop of energy that dips below your original energy level your soil will be unable to replenish it self and eventually all the lime and fertilizer in the world won’t correct the imbalance.

Soil scientists and those in the business of maintaining grass recognize that there is a cycle of life in soils. The plants need the nutrients that are disturbed by the microbes and the microbes need the plants. Compost tea is a great way to increase pasture health but in some areas it is not readily available.

Luckily, there are some very interesting products out there now that provide the microbes needed to put your pasture back on a natural growth pattern – just as many of us today take probiotic supplements to increase “gut” activity. One such product is Thicker Horse Pasture you can get a lot of useful information from the company’s website at:

The Native Americans taught the early settlers of the US to use fish as fertilizer in their fields and now we are moving back towards this source of soil nutrients. One company that produces a range of fertilizers and soil preparation products is New Country Organics.  You can check out the full range of their products here:

We are going to be testing out both of these products this Spring on a pilot project here in Maryland… stay tuned.

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Shelly Ingram

I am a third generation horsewoman; My father operated a 50 horse boarding and training facility in northern California, where he specialized in re-training spoiled horses. I was his demonstration rider and general assistant in all aspects of running the ranch. I went on to work for several major show and race horse trainers, eventually opening my own barn where I focused on Junior and Amateur riders. I have trained numerous champion horses and riders on all levels and in variety of disciplines. I have also worked as a journalist and have more than a decade of experience in land use planning.

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