Pugging and compaction leave soils less productive. High stock densities combined with prolonged rainfall leave Waikato region soils vulnerable to pugging and compaction. This can be minimised by careful stock and land management.
When stock intensively trample wet soil, the soil aggregates are broken down, and spaces (pores) in the soil are reduced. This phenomenon is called pugging.
Soils become compacted when under pressure from machinery (such as tractors or haulers) or livestock. Compaction has similar effects to pugging.
Areas with high water tables (for example Hauraki, Netherton and Te Kowhai), clay soils or intensive stocking rates are at higher risk of pugging and compaction.
Farming is very important to the Waikato region's economy. The Waikato region has the highest number of dairy farms in the country and one of the largest concentrations of dairy cattle in the world.
Outdoor grazing occurs all year round. During strip feeding in winter, stock numbers can reach 300 to 600 cows per hectare. Prolonged rainfall and wet soil conditions, combined with high stocking density on paddocks, provide the ideal conditions for soil damage from pugging and soil compaction.
Severe pugging and compaction leads to more topsoil and contaminant runoff to waterways. Find out about the impacts of runoff to our water from nutrient enrichment in our lakes and rural runoff to the Waikato River.