It’s important to put something back into your land

While it’s all very well to eschew the use of artificial fertilisers, you can’t just keep on taking from your land without putting something back, particularly on areas that are regularly cut for hay. This is poor husbandry, and is no different from neglecting your animals or providing them with insufficient nutrition.

Housing your animals over the winter period therefore serves an additional purpose over and above the mere provision of shelter – it enables you to build up a stock of valuable manure, ready to spread on the fields where it’s most needed. However, it’s now a bit too late in the year to apply muck to land that’ll be mown this summer – the dung won’t have time to break down properly, and you risk incorporating it into your crop. It would be better to wait until the hay is off the field, then immediately spread manure onto the stubble. This should give a nice bite of grass for autumn grazing, and a much improved hay crop in the following year. If possible, refrain from mucking out your outbuildings until you’re actually ready to spread, because muck stored outdoors will lose nutrients through leaching, which, quite apart from the fact it’s wasteful, could land you in trouble if effluent from the muck heap finds its way into land drains and watercourses.

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