Response: Unfortunately, with heavy clay soil, drainage and mud is going to be a continued problem unless the drylot is renovated. The below system, called a high traffic pad, has proven to work (tested at the Universities of Kentucky and Vermont) and will dramatically decrease mud problems in drylots. To install a high traffic pad:
- Remove the 8" of top soil
- Install drainpipe to direct water out of the pen. The pipe must be sloped towards an outlet.
- Roll out geotextile fabric. The fabric comes in large rolls.
- Add 4" of crushed limestone (usually 1 ½ to 1 ¾ in diameter).
- Add second layer of geotextile fabric.
- Add 4" of dirty pea stone (small gravel)
- Refresh the top layer as needed; usually once every year or two.
The estimated cost for installing a high traffic pad is about $0.80 per square foot. In one of your 14' x 65' drylots, the cost to renovate the entire paddock will cost just under $800. To lessen the investment, renovate one drylot per year.
The University of Kentucky has a factsheet further outlining the process. It is available online at www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id164/id164.pdf
By: Krishona Martinson, PhD, University of Minnesota