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Help with degraded soil please!

Home Forums FOOD PRODUCTION, HARVEST AND STORAGE Soils, Weeds and Wind Breaks Help with degraded soil please!

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    Ajays MumAjays Mum

    Hi guys, I’ve tried the search function and can’t find what I need so I hope you can all point me in the right direction.

    We have 5 acres of sloped land in the Hawkesbury. It has been grazed long term, is heavily compacted and on the top of the property there wouldn’t be much soil at all. We’re on an iron stone ridge, 100m above sea level. I have two retired horses on the bulk of the property with the chooks and veggies in the house yard at the top of the hill and a dam at the bottom. The climate is fairly warm (down to 4 overnight but up to 26 degrees today and it’s mid winter!) and wet during autumn but dry over summer. The high winds and strong sun desiccate the top of the property very quickly as it all faces north-west.

    My problem is that the kikuyu grass is being taken over by bindi and other low growing broadleaf weeds on the higher, drier parts of the property. I have a toddler so don’t really want these prickly weeds everywhere, but more than that I’d like the property to sustain my old mares so would like the grass to come back. I know kikuyu isn’t ideal either (and I thought nothing could kill it but apparently my black thumb strikes again! 🙁 ) but I’d prefer it to the inedible weeds. Mowing won’t control these guys (it has helped with the fireweed) as they are very low growing.

    Has anyone got some suggestions for improving the pasture? We are also within a few km of national park so weed infestation isn’t a good thing. I’m sure this would have been covered somewhere on the forum but I’m a computer gumby and can’t find it!

    Thank you all in anticipation!

    Ajay’s Mum


    g’day ajay’s mum,

    without seeing what you have, i would do simple things like rip swales across the contours to get moisture into the sub soil moisture helps teh better plants to grow better, seed with native grasses and nitrogen fixers ie.,. wyncassia, lotenomus, clover, lucerne, as you encourage stronger growing other plants the weeds will have less space to grow. kikuyu a bit of a weed in its own right me thinks.

    i preffer to see native grasses planted.

    slash what you have at around 6″ high and leave it lay to be mulch.

    quick fix is to spray but that comes with some stings in the tail.

    can’t guarantee i heve the correct spelling of plants above.


    Ajays MumAjays Mum

    Thank you Len for your reply!

    Some time has passed and I’ve been absent due to some unforseen circumstances, however, I have a couple of weeks off and have been rediscovering my lovely property! The veggie beds are now seeded and growing and a bit of pruning has been done. No pasture improvement, however I am having some moderate success with weeding!

    Firstly, due to a ‘watch and act’ fire warning during early spring, I had three days off work where I was loathe to leave the property. Every 30mins I checked the ridge where the fire was, checked the RFS website and then levered out bindii using an old fork in between. As a result the house paddock was toddler friendly for Christmas and I am inspired to remove bindii by hand in the other paddocks next year. You have to get it while it is green, but I’m confident that I will get it all!

    Our property is a 5 acre triangle with the highest point uphill. We’ve been pulling the fireweed out from the top down and have all but eradicated it from the top two paddocks. I’m keen to get the middle part of the property under control over the next 12 months and then the bottom paddock near the dam will be the last frontier!

    The old farmers in the area probably think I’m a hippy greenie or townie, but I’m proud of the fact that I’m eradicating the weeds chemical-free, and it is working. I’m drowning the weeds in tubs then tipping the result (with some pony poo) into a dedicated raised bed which is now growing zucchini and pumpkin for my efforts. No fireweed or bindii have seeded in the bed so far.

    Next job is to get some more (fire resistant) trees in methinks!

    Judi BJudi B

    Good luck with the bindii we had the property clear of it manually pulling it all but after the floods we had so much that we used spray 🙁 came from the neighbours place :angry:

    It just takes time to get soil fertile… I’m back to square 1 with mine and I’m finding it hard to get into it. Swales to catch any rain and planting stuff that you can chop and drop for mulch nitrogen fixing plants…..every little bit helps.


    with bindi is a knee breaking weed to pull/dig by hand. maybe select and area to treat lay newspaper and cardboard and hevily mulch it, this will give you a medium to grow some better ground cover in, i would suggest clover, wyncassia & lotunomus(spelling) these have strong root systems and are soil improvers, and make excellent free ranging for teh chooks in the afternoon.

    another outlook soon to be in season, is to accumulate as many budding ‘taters as you can chit them now so you get sprouts about 4″s long or so, buy seedies now if you can. then do what we do with instant spud patch:

    not to late to grow pumpkins they are good weed cover, even sweet potatos. are you able to do any ripping to whatever depth you can attain will be better than none, or lay rows of rubble or mulch bales across the countours.

    gypsum heaps of it.

    keep us informed


    Ajays MumAjays Mum

    There is plenty of black wattle in the area, it doesn’t last long so once it dies I put it through the chipper and spread it around. The sweet potato is about to be allowed to take over the top of one paddock too now that I know it will survive here.

    I like the idea of using bales for swales, hadn’t thought of that!


    Rain damage bales of hay can be sourced from farms for as little as $2 a bale. I have one bale swale and so far it seems to be working- in that there is now grass starting to regrow over the area which was previously bare dirt because the water rushed over the ground so fast. I have had moderate success with using big sticks and logs on downhill slopes too. Fireweed is a pain in the tail- I have been pulling it out by hand as it hasnt flowered yet and throwing it down on the ground as mulch. It seems to grow up behind my back as I walk the paddock- wretched stuff.

    I hand weeded around the side of the house over a series of weeks last Spring to get rid of all the bindis and have been rewarded with nice soft clover cover there now- much nicer on the feet.

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