Don’s Expert Answers: Pasture Aerating and Harrowing

Question From:
Sharon West in Acton Park, Hobart Tasmania

Nature of problem:
Pasture Aerating and Harrowing

Type of Plant (if known):

Symptoms of Plant Illness (please try NOT to diagnose your problems yourself):

Soil Type (e.g. sandy, clay or loam) OR Potting Mix Type:

How often do you water the plant:

How many hours of sunlight does the plant get each day:

How long since you planted it:

Have you fertilised? If so, with what and when:
Have applied Aglime

Is the plant indoors or outdoors:

Is the plant in a pot or in the ground:

What other treatments have you given the plant:

Upload photo if available:

Other Comments:
Good afternoon, I live in Acton Park Tasmania, its out near the airport. We have 4 acres of clay soil and pasture which had been decimated by rabbits before we moved in. We have split the paddocks so our 2 horses can be rotated and the paddocks then harrowed with concrete reinforcing mesh and tyres. We have just purchased a tow behind aerator and it is entering the soil to a depth of average 1.5cm which we think is good at this point in time. Our question is do we harrow the paddock first and then aerate and water or do we aerate first and then harrow. I’m thinking the later would just fill the holes back in? I’ve tried doing my homework but unable to come up with any answers hoping you may have some ideas.

With thanks
Sharon West

Hi Sharon, Aerating to 1.5cm is pretty much useless. The most important part of soil is not sand, organic matter or water – it is air. Air to at least 30-40cm. Plant roots respire just like us…so no oxygen, no live roots. Horses’ hooves crush the soil excluding oxygen from the soil, so constant (at least annual) aerating with a deep ripper to at least 30-40cm is essential. Try to buy a deep ripper if you can – the Yeoman’s vibrating ripper is the best ever. Sadly these are mostly available in Qld. Harrowing makes things neat & tidy but it is pretty useless. You need an old, cheap, powerful tractor… maybe borrow one from a nearby farmer. Sorry to cut to the chase, but I used these techniques on my farms over the years and I had superb pastures and lovely happy horses. Don