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The Country Enterprise Handbook
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Water
>..A hindrance
...Running
...Sport
...Shortage

If the water is contained in a heavy waterlogged soil, it is a hindrance.

The way to drain land depends firstly on its location and slope. If your land is on a good slope, it may simply be a case of clearing out old ditches or digging new ones. Dropping ditches by an extra foot in length can sometimes have a dramatic effect on the land; as can providing a proper exit for the ditches. Many ditches do not lead into sufficiently deep removal areas so that water stands in the ditches instead of being led away. The only reason to have permanent water in a ditch is if you intend to irrigate the land from it. If you are trying to drain the land, make sure that the ditch empties. You may have to consider mechanical drainage. There are various grants available on some land for this and it is worth checking whether your land would qualify.

Stock can also cause land to become waterlogged. A field that has naturally poor drainage turns into a mud-bath when stocked with cattle or, even more, shod horses. Horses are almost always bad for land. They do not graze efficiently and tend to poach favourite areas. Even sheep have to be kept off wet land in the winter. Over the long term it is worth building up the humus level of your soil and letting earthworms help you to aerate it.

All the cures for waterlogged soils are time-consuming. In desperation you could always cover it with concrete. There is one area in the West Country where many small farms have unbelievably large areas of concrete. It was put there by a succession of farmers who moved there because the land was cheap. They soon found out why: it was wet and the local farmers had the land correctly valued.

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