Dairy grazing strategies to minimise soil pugging and compaction in the Waikato


  • J.J. Drewry




Abstract This 3 year (1996-1998) study compared grazing regimes for minimising soil compaction and pugging damage. The treatments were conventional yearround dairy cow grazing, grazing for 3 hours when soil was susceptible to pugging damage, never pugged when soil was susceptible to pugging damage, and never grazed. In October 1997, macroporosity at 0- 5 cm (air-filled porosity), a measure of soil compaction, was: never grazed (21.6%), never pugged (21.3%), 3 hour grazing (16.3%) conventional grazing control (12.8%). During July-September 1997, the never grazed and never pugged treatments had 35%, and 28% greater pasture yields than the control, with a similar trend in July-September 1998. The 3 hour grazing treatment had better soil physical quality than the control but this was not reflected in greater pasture production. The never pugged treatment greatly improved soil physical condition and had greater winter/spring pasture growth compared with conventional grazing so would be justified by farmers implementing "standing-off" pasture management strategies. Keywords: compaction, pasture yield, pugging, treading