Pasture Aeration

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Pasture Aeration

Postby Lucky » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:06 am

Does anyone on here aerate thier pastures? If so what is the best type to use? I’ve looked at the tine and the type that drag the shank though the ground and get mixed answers. The Lawson or Ranchworx seem to get good reviews but are really expensive new and hard to find used.
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Re: Pasture Aeration

Postby 1982vett » Sun Sep 16, 2018 4:56 pm

I bought a renovator with Coulter’s and shanks about 14 years ago before fuel to pull it with went to $4. I’d say the type to buy largely depends on type of your soil. Is it better than the other types? I don’t know. Doesn’t do near what Mother Nature has been doing with 1 to 3 inch wide cracks running over 4 ft deep the past few years.

I’d say the best way to “renovate” a pasture is to stop over grazing it.

From the Fall of 2010 to January 2012 I fed almost a 3 year supply of hay. Rainfall total for 2011 was 15 inches. So far this year my rainfall total is just under 16 inches. Haven’t had to resort to feeding hay. Just putting that out their.
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Re: Pasture Aeration

Postby Texasmark » Wed Sep 19, 2018 12:38 pm

Hay King (brand) Pasture Renovator. Bought mine at the local JD dealership. Very reasonably priced and works like a dream. Runs about 12 drawbar hp per shank. The coulters prevent large clods/clumps from forming, even in my heavy clay and the knives run 8-12" deep, depending on how you set it up.

Other nicety of the coulters is that they are sharp and in a bermuda hay patch where you have runners, they slice the runners making a new plant with each piece of runner that had a root.

On hills, running parallel to the hill they make cavities to catch the runoff that would otherwise be wasted. If you have a dry spell and then get a pretty good shower, the grass greens up right along the slits, well before the pasture as a whole greens back up.
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Re: Pasture Aeration

Postby JMJ Farms » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:53 pm

Texasmark wrote:Hay King (brand) Pasture Renovator. Bought mine at the local JD dealership. Very reasonably priced and works like a dream. Runs about 12 drawbar hp per shank. The coulters prevent large clods/clumps from forming, even in my heavy clay and the knives run 8-12" deep, depending on how you set it up.

Other nicety of the coulters is that they are sharp and in a bermuda hay patch where you have runners, they slice the runners making a new plant with each piece of runner that had a root.

On hills, running parallel to the hill they make cavities to catch the runoff that would otherwise be wasted. If you have a dry spell and then get a pretty good shower, the grass greens up right along the slits, well before the pasture as a whole greens back up.


Texasmark, I’ve never ran a hay king, but I’ve heard people comment that they make their pasture rough. Have you had any issues with this? I think TrueGrit has one but I haven’t asked him. Maybe he will see this and reply also.
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Re: Pasture Aeration

Postby Ebenezer » Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:19 pm

UT had a study years ago that did not support aerators. The only difference in an aerator and a sheeps foot roller is that the roller has a bulb on the end of the shank. Use plant roots.
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Re: Pasture Aeration

Postby Turkeybird » Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:25 pm

The only advantage I see from using one is to prep the ground before no tilling winter pasture or vice versa
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Re: Pasture Aeration

Postby JMJ Farms » Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:55 pm

Ebenezer wrote:UT had a study years ago that did not support aerators. The only difference in an aerator and a sheeps foot roller is that the roller has a bulb on the end of the shank. Use plant roots.


Hard to dispute your post Ebenezer. Because I’ve read numerous studies that say the same thing. So let me be clear. I’m asking not disputing. Why is it when you dig a trench for a water line, electrical wire, etc that the grass will be much greener and more productive for years to come?

Bonus question: I have a neighbor with an aerator that’s a big drum (holds 1000 gallons of water) with ‘teeth’ on it. Teeth penetrate the ground about 6”. He bought it to aerate pastures. One year while planting cotton the tractor was struggling bad with the strip till planters. We hooked to the aerator and pulled it in front of the planters. It was night and day. Why did this help? How does pulling a 8000 pound drum over a field loosen rather than compact?
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Re: Pasture Aeration

Postby Lucky » Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:22 pm

JMJ Farms wrote:
Ebenezer wrote:UT had a study years ago that did not support aerators. The only difference in an aerator and a sheeps foot roller is that the roller has a bulb on the end of the shank. Use plant roots.


Hard to dispute your post Ebenezer. Because I’ve read numerous studies that say the same thing. So let me be clear. I’m asking not disputing. Why is it when you dig a trench for a water line, electrical wire, etc that the grass will be much greener and more productive for years to come?

Bonus question: I have a neighbor with an aerator that’s a big drum (holds 1000 gallons of water) with ‘teeth’ on it. Teeth penetrate the ground about 6”. He bought it to aerate pastures. One year while planting cotton the tractor was struggling bad with the strip till planters. We hooked to the aerator and pulled it in front of the planters. It was night and day. Why did this help? How does pulling a 8000 pound drum over a field loosen rather than compact?


That sounds like the arrator I’ve been looking at. Supposedly it fractures the the ground and cuts the plant root so water and air can reach the plant.
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Re: Pasture Aeration

Postby Turkeybird » Thu Sep 20, 2018 2:03 am

Lawson/ ranchworx is the only one that seems logical to me, pasture aerating and cotton/ corn stalk chopping
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Re: Pasture Aeration

Postby Ebenezer » Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:27 am

Why is it when you dig a trench for a water line, electrical wire, etc that the grass will be much greener and more productive for years to come?
Same as fire ant mounds after the ants are gone. A deep mixing of soils topsoil and nutrients deeper is my guess. Ants leave mixed soil and nutrients. They had a study in the NC coastal plains years ago that mixing small amounts of subsoil up into the topsoil reduced total crop production. A study in SC decades ago showed that subsoil cuts completely sealed within a year in some typical piedmont soils. Subsoiling in spodic horizons is highly beneficial for many years. A quick run thru to say that some is soil related but plows, aerators or whatever create a hardpan at the depth of their zone of penetration or at the base of the point, tip, tooth, blade or shank. Where the tip of an aerator tooth stops, a compacted layer is created.

Bonus question: I have a neighbor with an aerator that’s a big drum (holds 1000 gallons of water) with ‘teeth’ on it. Teeth penetrate the ground about 6”. He bought it to aerate pastures. One year while planting cotton the tractor was struggling bad with the strip till planters. We hooked to the aerator and pulled it in front of the planters. It was night and day. Why did this help? How does pulling a 8000 pound drum over a field loosen rather than compact?
Wow, maybe I can win a bonus prize? What's behind door #2? :lol2: Aerators do work. How do they work? They loosen the top layer and with multiple passes create an expanding hardpan at the base of the tips. In the process of aeration the air gets to the soil, the bacteria thrive on oxygen instead of the fungi that live in soil that is not aerated, the bacteria consume the organic matter, the next crop gets a benefit from the conversion of the OM. When that season is gone, the soil is more deplete of OM than it was prior to aeration. The best aerator is plant roots. This also preserves OM and does not disrupt the fungi. If your subsoil is adverse, either condition it based on local recommendations, use plants and crops that can handle it, increase the height of your stop grazing rule in rotations, use specific crops or plants to modify it, increase fertility or applications or learn to live with it as it is. A lot of this is the basis of what is modernly known as "soil health" but Hugh Hammond Bennett was writing about it (without the benefit of much scientific research in the last 85 years) in books he wrote in the 30's and the work he promoted as natural resource management and erosion control.
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Re: Pasture Aeration

Postby ddd75 » Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:39 am

radishes and turnips would be the best.
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Re: Pasture Aeration

Postby True Grit Farms » Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:03 am

JMJ Farms wrote:
Texasmark wrote:Hay King (brand) Pasture Renovator. Bought mine at the local JD dealership. Very reasonably priced and works like a dream. Runs about 12 drawbar hp per shank. The coulters prevent large clods/clumps from forming, even in my heavy clay and the knives run 8-12" deep, depending on how you set it up.

Other nicety of the coulters is that they are sharp and in a bermuda hay patch where you have runners, they slice the runners making a new plant with each piece of runner that had a root.

On hills, running parallel to the hill they make cavities to catch the runoff that would otherwise be wasted. If you have a dry spell and then get a pretty good shower, the grass greens up right along the slits, well before the pasture as a whole greens back up.


Texasmark, I’ve never ran a hay king, but I’ve heard people comment that they make their pasture rough. Have you had any issues with this? I think TrueGrit has one but I haven’t asked him. Maybe he will see this and reply also.

I know a pasture renavator helps my pastures, in my hay fields I'm not sold I've seen the benefits. In our pasture management style, a renovator pretty much is mandatory. I spread fertilizer, clover and ryegrass every fall over my pastures then pull my renovator - drag combo over it. As for making your pastures rougher if you pull in a circle or square pattern yes, otherwise I feel using a drag behind the renovator actually smooths my fields a little.
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Re: Pasture Aeration

Postby Texasmark » Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:49 am

The Hay King is specifically designed to not disturb the top soil. As stated, the coulter is designed to slice the top (however many inches you set the 3 pt depth) soil and plant shoots (for Bermuda especially since they have such and I have such). In clay soils, in arid times the shank disturbed soil opens up and makes a crack which fills with water and fertilizer when applied, getting such down in the root zone.

Anything that disturbs the soil to a depth will create a "pan" of some sort. So the question is, how much pan can you tolerate/need. I had a neighbor with a 3 shank "pan breaker" and the shanks were about 3' long and made of 1x4" solid steel (rembering best I can), tapered on the bottom with a replaceable foot. Had a 105 White with duals/weights and he said it ran in A1 (his lowest gear) and took all day to go nowhere. Since most tillage implements run a few inches or so, this implement surely broke up the existing pan.

I entertained the idea of the spike toothed drum and almost bought one till I realized that when my clay gets hard it probably wouldn't penetrate and wouldn't cut Bermuda shoots like I want. I wasn't looking at a 10k# unit, the small ones readily for sale on the www. I know they make some really complex units that cost a bunch of money. For a BTO it's no big deal. I'm not a BTO.

As with any implement, you need what YOU need, not what is good for others. Good luck.
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Re: Pasture Aeration

Postby Texasmark » Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:11 am

Well it happened as planned. The renovator cut slits in the soil in contour, soil/water conservation fashion. The summer drought comes and the clay cracks open along the rows where the renovator sliced the subsoil. In the last 2 weeks we had about an inch initially and then the last couple of days had another 6". The cracks are puffy and closing up, capturing the moisture that would have otherwise run down the hill and into the creek. The winter pea patch partially sprouted and up about an inch or so, which I planted a couple of weeks ago, has zero erosion meaning that it captured the moisture to be used later next year when it gets hot and dry.
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Re: Pasture Aeration

Postby BRYANT » Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:33 am

I hunted a field that had the thickest and best looking Bermuda grass I ever saw and they told me, I did not see them when they did it, that they had ripped the field with a ripper behind a dozer every 4-5 foot and 4 foot deep a couple years before. It sure look like the rain soaked in rather than run of ???
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