From early spring here at Glengorm, a good chunk of time gets spent trying to improve the quantity and quality of our grass. Over winter, the ground gets soaked with rain, and the soil gets compacted and this prevents the grass from growing as well. As the ground gets wetter, it gets waterlogged and when animals then walk on it it becomes all rucked, poached and uneven. In order to promote new growth, a series of processes has to happen to bring these areas back to life.
This needs to happen from spring time when the weather improves as the tractor cannot be driven on the wet muddy fields as it would do too much damage to the ground.
The first piece of equipment is the Aerator. This is a dangerous looking machine fitted with blades which cut into the fields. This breaks the pan (surface area of soil) which then lets more air into the soil at the grass roots, raises the ground temperature and improves drainage which in turn promotes growth.
Harrows are used in the fields to pull out moss and dead grass, and again this allows more air to get into the soil. They help in levelling off the ground surface by knocking down mole hills and breaking up rucked and poached ground caused by animals .
After the field has been harrowed, it will then be rolled. This will consolidate the soil and level off the surface, again this promotes grass growth.
Traditionally on the West Coast of Scotland, soil is naturally acidic which is not great for grass growth. In order to increase pH and reduce acidity, lime or calcium carbonate would be spread on the fields. Here at Glengorm, we spread crushed scallop shells onto the fields. The Scallop factory in Tobermory has huge amounts of shell which they have to dispose of, they grind down the shell for us into a coarse grit and this gets transported from Tobermory to Glengorm by tractor and trailer. This is a great way to use a product which would otherwise be wasted.
The recent sunshine has helped the grass here recently, the sheep are enjoying the new growth, but as ever, the weather plays a major role and we will soon be in the position where we will be needing some rain as the fields are all drying out too well!!