Last week I talked about the use of a track paddock to create extra space and a natural pattern of movement for horses on a small acreage. We have set up two pilot projects featuring this idea and are looking toward seeding the interior areas and the tracks this Spring.
What we are trying to do is develop a seed combination that will provide a hardy and somewhat unpalatable base for the track portion of the pastures. We are going to try and add some different grasses to the seeding mix at a rate of approximately 1/3 of the mix.
One idea that has presented itself it the use of Broomsedge. Broomsedge is a weedy grass that is commonly found in pastures. Although not a highly competitive species, it can be perceived as such in many pastures because it is an opportunistic plant that takes advantage of situations that decrease competitiveness of desirable forage plants.
To thrive this plant needs a low soil PH* (pasture generally does well with a PH of 6-6.5) so it may do well on a surface that gets a lot of traffic. In its mature growth stages it is unpalatable to horses and it is a bunchgrass with a large roots system that could help hold soil in place.
For all you ever wanted to know about Broomsedge check out this website:
Another idea is to use Bermuda Grass, a perennial warm¬season grass introduced from Africa It is a popular species used as forage and turf throughout the southern United States. This deeprooted, sodforming grass spreads by means of stolons, rhizomes and seed. It is highly productive and withstands drought and close grazing. Here’s more information about Bermuda Grass
Both of these grasses are best suited to dry and warm climates and there has been some difficulty getting them established here in the northeast, but it may be worth taking the time and making the effort if it provides a solution to space limitation and helps horse owners provide more turnout without depleting the soil.
*What is PH?
Soil pH is a measure of the acidity and alkalinity in soils. pH levels range from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral, below 7 acidic and above 7 alkaline. The optimal pH range for most plants is between 5.5 and 7.0; however, many plants have adapted to thrive at pH values outside this range. (http://www.cropnutrition.com/efu-soil-ph)