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When Should I Aerate – Prevention or Remedy?

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When should I aerate – prevention or remedy?

While best practice has often been aerating after a wet weather event , subsoil aeration before a wet weather event offers its own unique benefits to get pastures through in good condition.

An assessment needs to be carried out in order to evaluate pastures that may be susceptible to problems. For example excessive water retention.

Why you should aerate after wet weather.

After wet weather is acknowledged as the optimal time to aerate pastures. Any compaction damage to the pasture and soil structure while grazing during this time can be remedied by aeration, which in turn provides an ideal environment for healthy root growth.

Restoration of ground that has been pugged and compacted allows for increased soil porosity, which has the following benefits:

• Increased  soil porosity encourages water penetration to lower levels, and enhanced microbial activity.

• Less compacted soils also enable vigorous  root growth.

Aeration at this time is the ideal preparation for pasture production providing the benefits of resilience and performance throughout this vigorous growing period.

Essentially getting a pasture healthy again  is all about maximising the opportunity to put meat on bones or litres in the vat.

With a healthy profile of moisture this is also an ideal time to oversow a pasture at the same time as aerating. An aerator with adjustable gangs offers the option of a more aggressive tillage which in turn provides optimal conditions for a seedbed. A combination including an aerator, air seeder hopper and covering tines setup is worth considering to renovate pastures. The option of adding extra weights in tough conditions may also need consideration.

Why you should aerate during dry periods.

Pastures that are prone to getting water logged or suffer from ponding after a wet weather event will benefit from preventative aeration.

Aeration will penetrate hard pans and compacted soil allowing movement and drainage of excess water. 

Other benefits of aeration include: 

• Root disease is minimised.

• Avoiding a reduction in ground temperature.

Summary

Post wet weather aeration is likely to remain the best option for pasture maintenance and production. Dry period aeration is likely to be selective and carried out only on pastures which are problematic and suffer from ponding and being water logged. 

Keeping pastures in optimal condition is all about timing, with an aerator it’s possible remediate pasture quickly and effectively.