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Soil Erosion

Soil Erosion

Soil erosion can be a serious problem on pastures and paddocks

Soil erosion can be a serious problem on pastures or paddocks. Any sloping area that is not adequately protected with healthy vegetation is likely to produce sediment-laden runoff that has offsite impacts, especially in streams and lakes. Erosion can become deep enough to risk animal injury. Fencelines that run up and down hill can be very susceptible to gully erosion due to the typical concentration of the animals along the fence, eliminating all vegetation.

Any gullied areas in pastures or paddocks must be filled and graded to eliminate the hazard. Pastures should be reseeded immediately after grading. Horses must be kept off of repaired and reseeded areas to allow the vegetation to establish.

In a pasture, maintain adequate vegetation for animal nutrition and soil protection. This is done through rotational grazing and forage overseeding. At times even seeding of annual grasses can be prudent if quick cover is needed before the desirable forage species can re-establish.

In a paddock or sacrifice area, vegetation is not practical so erosion must be controlled with good stormwater management:

  • Keep "clean water clean." Use grassed waterways, diversions, or subsurface drains to divert clean runoff around barns, manure storage areas, and paddocks.
  • Install and maintain a system of properly sized roof gutters, downspouts and drains to prevent roof water from becoming polluted by mixing with barnyard manure and sediment.
  • Separate barnyards, paddocks, and manure storage areas from any waterway with filter strips of vegetation to trap sediments and absorb nutrients in runoff.

Paddocks and Sacrifice Areas

Use turnout paddocks as "sacrifice areas" to preserve pastures. This strategy reduces churning and compaction of wet soils, and overgrazing when pastures require rest. if possible, locate paddocks back from waterways; and avoid swales where overland flows can wash away bare soil or manure. Maintain a vegetated border around paddocks to help filter pollutants. Be sure paddocks provide horses with adequate exercise room.


Printable Version

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New Jersey Pasture Management Guide for Horse Owners

Pasture Management Guide for Horse Owners (PDF, 2.15 MB)