Why, How and When to Soil Test my Horse Paddock?

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Why should I Soil Test my Paddock?

One of the major impacts on your horse’s wellbeing is the quality of the grass on which it grazes.  One of the major impacts on the quality and volume of grass is the quality of the soil on which it grows.  Good quality soils will ensure a reliable supply of energy, protein and other nutrients they may also give a long season of potential grazing.  Management of these plant nutrients can result in an improved performance of the Grasses and Legumes and may also suppress many Pasture weeds.  Without soil testing on a regular basis you cannot know what you’re soil needs to improve it.  Regular soil testing is a low cost investment that could have a major impact on your horse’s health.

How should I soil test my paddock?Horses in Paddock

If you go ahead you may be sent instructions by the company who is doing the testing. The following is a guide; to take a soil sample you need to use either an auger or a trowel and be able to take the samples from about 6 inches in depth.  If the paddock that you are testing is all of a similar soil type then you need to take about 20 different samples zigzagging across the field.  Mix the samples together and then send a sub sample off for testing. This way you will get a good range from across the field.  Avoid areas where the horses may have congregated as their droppings and urine may have altered the nutrient status. Also avoid areas just inside the gate or around the water trough.  If your field seems to have a range of soil types then it may pay to send off a number of different samples making sure you record where the samples you have sent where taken from.

When should I soil test my Paddock?Horses

Whilst you can take soil samples at any time of the year the best time to takes soil samples is September through to December or in the spring February through to April.  Do not take soil samples within two months of applying fertiliser as this may give an unrepresentative result.  In an ideal world on light land you would test the soil every three years on heavy land every five years.

What next?

MAS Seeds do not provide their own soil testing service. There are many companies online offering this that you can approach. The following one is one normally recommend to customers. If you have horse in a paddock and have never tested the soil we would highly recommend that you consider getting it done.

Hutton soils part of the Macaulay institute they can be found at   http://www.huttonsoils.com/