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Restoring Depleted Farmland
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Restoring Depleted Farmland
Hello from Waihaorunga, South Canterbury. My partner and I have recently purchased a 10 acre block of land in Waihaorunga. The pasture is sadly depleted - mostly brown-top. There has been virtually no fertiliser put on for many years. Surprisingly the few animals we are running on the place at the moment are doing extremely well. We wish to "refurbish" the land and wonder the best way to do so organically. Direct drilling does not seem possible unless one sprays the place with a glyphosate herbicide first. This we do not want to do as apparently such herbicides are not as innocent as they are made out to be. Is there an alternative method? Also we would like a list of species of grasses which would create a type of herbal ley. Grasses which would do well in our area. Many thanks. I look forward to hearing from you.
Roz Henry

If you donít want to use glyphosate and donít want to go into ploughing, cultivating and resowing from scratch, you can use a method called oversowing.

This method is awfully wasteful on seed (if you are lucky 10% will germinate and establish) but still isnít too uneconomic because you donít have the costs of cultivation and/or pesticide use plus the undesirable effects on soil life, health etc.

With oversowing the seed is broadcast on top of existing pasture. Before you do this itís a good idea to

  • graze off the old pasture as low as possible
  • mix the seed with sand as a filler
  • ensure the seed is in contact with soil (sheep can tread it in or use a Cambridge roller)
  • some organic fertiliser could be applied at the same time (e.g. Bonemeal, Rockphosphate)
  • make sure you Ďcatchí a rainy period afterwards, but not too cold for plant germination and growth (South Island usually in spring)
  • Click here for information on herbal leys.

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