Rain is finally falling here after 2 months without one drop. Add to that scorching unprecedented heat day after day and what results is pasture die off and dehydrated soils.
In response common sense told me that I needed to slow the rate of evaporation which to me meant MULCH and lots of it. Fortunately I found a cheap source of damaged oaten hay in the large bales so I ordered 4 of them and got to work spreading it over my future market garden site – all 750m2 of it. I kept the mulch layer spare as I did not want to hinder rain moisture getting through to the limited vegetation below yet its thick enough to protect the vegetation from the extreme UV and heat while keeping the moisture in the soil. So far its working – a patch I covered a month or so ago is the only patch of green pasture on my whole property.
The remaining hay I layered thick around all my young trees. My new fenced paddocks run along the contour of my property so I am using woodchip 3m wide and about 20cm thick along the southern edge of the fence line to act as moisture retention, slow water running down slope and prep for future native shrubs that will be browse fodder for my goats. I also applied Biodynamic preps 500 and 501 to half my property prior to mulching.
As I understand it no soil should ever lay bare and exposed. I have observed areas that have become bare from traffic that are now forming great cracks some 600mm deep. Some of these areas I have covered with aggregate others with woodchip.
I feel all land owners need to address soil degradation from stock overgrazing or purely from pasture die off due to lack of rain. We need to understand there is still moisture well below the surface of the soil and failure to mitigate loss of this moisture is irresponsible farming. Its all good and well to sell off your stock when the feed disappears but then get to work regenerating the land that the stock has ravaged so when the rains finally come your pastures will not have lost one mm of top soil. As farmers we must be responsible stewards of the land.