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View Full Version : Patches of dead pasture from urine: why do they occur, how to cure them?



pwynnnorman
Jun. 17, 2010, 06:58 AM
Excuse me if this has been discussed, but, as usual, I can't find it via searching.

I'm frustrated by these patches. I don't have a lot of pasture and so I value just about every blade. I saw a product advertised somewhere--for yard lawns, not agricultural pastures--that grew grass over such patches, but I don't know if that same product is used in larger applications.

I'm also just extremely curious about why they occur. Sometimes, it seems to me that just ONE peeing incident causes a patch--I mean, really, surely it's a coincidence when horses end up peeing twice or more in exactly the same place? I'm talking about a little one-foot square patch. I get it when it's clearly a larger area they've decided to use as a toilet, but those little patches? It drives me nuts!

grayarabpony
Jun. 17, 2010, 07:56 AM
Nitrogen burn and high acidity. Usually bermuda can grow over such patches just fine, if it thrives where you are.

ponygirl
Jun. 17, 2010, 08:24 AM
I have the same thing happening. One of my mares is quite good at burning grass. If I'm around and see her pee, I dump a water bucket on it. I don't know what else to do but pray for a 10 minute daily shower sans lightning.

JSwan
Jun. 17, 2010, 09:04 AM
If you're experiencing a problem with it you may want to do a soil test. Your soil may benefit from an application of lime.

An easy way to tell if you have acidic soil is to take a fistful of soil and put it into a jar. Pour vinegar onto the soil. If it fizzes, you may need lime.

To know for sure you just take some soil samples and have a soil test performed. Your feed store or extension agent can give you more information. It's really easy and inexpensive to do.

The end result is that you will have better pasture grasses. Grasses need the right ph to thrive.

Hampton Bay
Jun. 17, 2010, 10:34 AM
JSwan, can you expand more on the lime? I thought lime was basic, so how would vinegar make the soil fizz if it needs to be more basic?

I have been having this problem too, but really only with my mares, specifically the two older ones (not my 2-yo filly). It only seems to be an issue during the winter though for me. Once it starts raining and the grass is no longer dormant, I don't get dead spots.

MafiaPrincess
Jun. 17, 2010, 10:41 AM
JSwan, can you expand more on the lime? I thought lime was basic, so how would vinegar make the soil fizz if it needs to be more basic?


JSwan talks about adding vinegar which is acetic acid to the soil.. If it fizzes because there is too much acidity.. then there is the need for lime to try to neutralize it.

Tamara in TN
Jun. 17, 2010, 10:45 AM
Sometimes, it seems to me that just ONE peeing incident causes a patch--I mean, really, surely it's a coincidence when horses end up peeing twice or more in exactly the same place? It drives me nuts!


the nitrogen in the urine is burning the grass up....nothing more or less than someone "burning up" their grass from too much fertilizer...if you are that upset you could run out with a 5 gal bucket of water and dump it on the pee spot after they do it...

Tamara in TN

ponygirl
Jun. 17, 2010, 10:46 AM
If you're experiencing a problem with it you may want to do a soil test. Your soil may benefit from an application of lime.

An easy way to tell if you have acidic soil is to take a fistful of soil and put it into a jar. Pour vinegar onto the soil. If it fizzes, you may need lime.

To know for sure you just take some soil samples and have a soil test performed. Your feed store or extension agent can give you more information. It's really easy and inexpensive to do.

The end result is that you will have better pasture grasses. Grasses need the right ph to thrive.

Interesting. Yes, I do need lime as my soil is too acidic at 4.9 so am in the process of putting it down so the PH is at 5.5 which is what bahia likes.

CatOnLap
Jun. 17, 2010, 11:10 AM
An easy way to tell if you have acidic soil is to take a fistful of soil and put it into a jar. Pour vinegar onto the soil. If it fizzes, you may need lime.

I really need this explained to me in símpler terms, I guess because this statement makes no sense to me, chemically speaking.

5% Acetic acid or household vinegar, is an acid. If you add it to another acid, it will not fizz, it will simply mix together unless the difference in pH (delta pH) is so great that the weaker acid acts as a base. The delta pH between soil and vinegar is not going to be that big.

Vinegar fizzes when you pour it onto lime, because lime is a base and the chemical reaction between the acid and the base produces carbon dioxide(fizz) and water. So JSwan, am I completely crazy or do you need your coffee this morning?

As for pee spots in the pasture? Horses are territorial and generally, they will establish a "potty spot" where they ALL will pee- in the same general area. My gelding-who-was-a-stallion insists on covering everyone else's smell with his own, just like a dog would.

pwynnnorman
Jun. 17, 2010, 12:45 PM
Oh! What very helpful answers! Thanks, all. I thought they were appearing after I put a particular broodmare on the pasture, but I couldn't imagine that it'd be only her.

And, yes, I do see that some of the older ones have yellowish grass starting to grow back around the edges...but later in the season, they grass doesn't grow back and the patch then is bare all winter (winter rye doens't grow over it, it seems).

Diluting with water is easy. I'm so glad to have gotten the information for such a straightforward solution. Thanks again.

(BTW, I actually limed this field two months ago.)

JSwan
Jun. 17, 2010, 03:50 PM
I really need this explained to me in símpler terms, I guess because this statement makes no sense to me, chemically speaking.


It doesn't make sense to you because I didn't give everyone the right instructions. I need MORE coffee in the am! Duh.

I got the instructions from Carrots love Tomatoes (I think; the book is in the house somewhere).

I searched the net since I'm too lazy to look for and through the book.


To make your own pH testing kit, you'll need a couple of glass jars, some vinegar and some baking soda. Start by spooning several tablespoons of soil from your garden into a jar. Take two to three samples of dirt from the topsoil and two to three samples from 3-4 inches deep. Mix all of the dirt together. Now spoon two tablespoons of the mixed soil into each jar and mix in a little bit of water until the soil is just moistened. In a separate container, mix a tablespoon of baking soda with two tablespoons of water. Pour this into one of the jars containing soil. If the soil starts to bubble or fizz, it may mean your soil is on the acidic side of the pH scale. If it doesn't fizz at all, you may have alkaline soil.
Now add a tablespoon of white vinegar into the second jar containing a mixture of your soil. This time if it fizzes, it may mean your soil is more on the alkaline side of the pH scale.






It takes up to six months for lime to be fully utilized.

CatOnLap
Jun. 18, 2010, 11:29 AM
pheeeuuw! that was a close one! I was thinking I was going to have to ask for a refund on that university degree in organic chemistry I got a few decades back...

Hampton Bay
Jun. 18, 2010, 01:33 PM
pheeeuuw! that was a close one! I was thinking I was going to have to ask for a refund on that university degree in organic chemistry I got a few decades back...

I was starting to wonder if I was going to have to ask for a refund on my Chemical Engineering degree too!

So I guess the question would be, is there any way to get LESS nitrogen in the urine?

oldpony66
Jun. 18, 2010, 06:42 PM
Biology major jumping in real quick. You'll always have some nitrogen in the urine, but some horses will excrete more nitrogen because they're being overfed protein. What the body doesn't need, it excretes.

KrazyTBMare
Jun. 19, 2010, 12:57 AM
My problem is that my bermuda IS thriving in these areas (like over 6" high) and the horses wont TOUCH it b/c its the potty. Drives me crazy!

I limed my pasture going on 3 years ago when it was all just weeds (tilled it all up and added lime/fertilizer after we did a soil test). Last year I had more "dead" spots but for some reason this year it is going crazy with grass.

I know how it is to have limited pasture and to cherish each and every blade of grass. But the only way I keep myself sane is that at least they pee in a general area and only kill/dont eat and therefore waste smaller areas of grass than peeing all over the place.

buck22
Jun. 24, 2010, 03:44 PM
I keep gardening lime on hand, a very fine powder, and shake it over the pee spots just before a rain. If the spot is really bad I turn up the ground, lime it and then sprinkle some composted manure on it. A really bad spot takes several weeks to a couple of months to heal. If they pee in my matted run-in, I lime that spot too to keep any smells from occurring. Works well enough for me.

I can 'toilet train' my geldings to pee where I want by raking together the uneaten hay and piling it where I'd like them to move their toilet too. They revel in peeing in deep non-edible hay and big fluffy piles attract them like magnets. I don't know if this works for mares.

Almost Heaven
Jun. 24, 2010, 05:09 PM
Extending the chemistry discussion, I believe the issue is uric acid - which is why the lime works. The person who has the 4.5 pH has a BIG problem, all clay. You need TRUCKS of lime.

It's also worse in the heat - hotter the ground/grass/air is, the more sensitive the grass will be to the uric acid. You could try air conditioning (aren't you in Florida?) - chuckle, chuckle. :lol: