Fixing the pugging problem

An example of pugged paddocks.

Pugging often has an underestimated negative impact on pasture returns. The issue of pugging, or soil compaction caused by livestock hooves, is a significant concern for farmers wanting quality pastures for economic and sustainable livestock farming.

Pugged vegetation is torn and buried resulting in compacted soil that disrupts soil structure, and limits water infiltration and root development. The result is poor drainage, increased runoff and erosion that impacts pastures long-term after damage without remedy. Bare patches allow opportunistic weeds to take root and proliferate, competing for valuable pasture sunlight, nutrients, and water.

There are several ways to mitigate the impacts of pugging, advises Redback Global.

Some of the most common include rotational grazing, rest and recovery periods, using machinery, and investing in strategic infrastructure.

A specific popular and common way to revive a pugged pasture is harrowing, says a spokesperson for the company.

In Neolithic times, the soil was harrowed or cultivated with tree branches, and the Romans made harrows with iron teeth. These days, there is a huge range of modern harrows designed and manufactured right here in New Zealand with NZ conditions in mind.

The Redback Agriculture Triangle & Chain Harrows are a proven favourite with exceptional clod-busting and levelling capabilities. The unique design has spikes in the front half to alter aerating aggression by the way you pull them. The middle smasher bar levels any material, while the plain chain sits flat and close to the ground spreading material effectively for a brilliant finish.

Proactive investment and pasture renovation after pugging damage are key for successful long-term returns and the well-being of livestock.


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