How is Sand Used in Farming and Agriculture?

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Sand is a key ingredient for many industries including construction, glass, energy, landscaping, and agriculture.

Because farming season is upon us, and relying on local food producers is more important than ever, let’s consider some of the uses for sand in farming and agriculture:


Did you know that chickens and turkeys like to eat rocks along with their food to help with digestion? Poultry Grits are somewhat rough stones that are washed, sorted and sized to various types of bird. When consumed with poultry feed (foraged or commercial), these stones act like teeth in a bird’s digestive tract by ‘chewing’ or grinding down food using muscles of the gizzard. This action aids in digestion, optimizing bird health and resulting in higher quality eggs and meat. When purchasing agricultural grits, be sure to match the grit size to the age and type of poultry, as stones that are too small will simply pass through the bird and stones that are too large could cause obstructions.


Livestock need their beauty sleep! Studies show that cows in particular spend half of their day lying down – most of this time is spent ‘drowsing’, as a cow generally sleeps about four hours per day in total. All this time spent lying around is why comfort and health are top concerns when creating bedding areas for livestock, especially when the animal is young, milking, pregnant, or nursing. Washed and specially screened sand is the most popular agricultural bedding material, because it is inert while providing excellent comfort, support, and traction.

Dairy Sustainability Engineer Curt A. Gooch, of Cornell University, recommends choosing sand with the following characteristics:

  • Low organic matter content
  • No debris or stones
  • Appropriate texture
  • Dry material

Sand is an essential component of potting soils. Certain crops benefit from growth in field or container nurseries before being transplanted to main farm plots. Nursery soil texture, permeability, structure, and compaction are all important variables during these early stages. In the spring, crops often do better in soils with increased sand content and (as always!) the type of sand used impacts the quality of the final product. Sand used in plant nurseries should be inert with a neutral pH, so not to affect the delicate nutrients necessary for growth. Washed and screened silica-based nursery sands are ideal, and are highly sought after by nursery operations.

After being transplanted, a lot of commercial farm crops (especially root vegetables and herbs) do best in sandy soils. Sand can be added or tilled into organic and clay rich soils to help with root development and drainage.


What do horse-riding arenas have to do with agriculture? Horses have been integral to farm-life for thousands of years, generally aiding farmers with herding, hauling and ploughing. Modern technologies have largely replaced horses in typical farm tasks, but horses are still an important part of the agricultural industry and farming community. Harvest festivals and agricultural fairs bring people together to celebrate and support life on the farm. A centerpiece of these festivals and events is usually a riding arena, where horses and other livestock are shown and admired for their skills and beauty. It is important that the riding arena sand used is safe for horse hoofs and joints.

So now you know about a few practical uses for sand in farming and agriculture – what are your agricultural requirements? As in any industry application, the size and composition of materials chosen are important to ensure a quality product. Contact the experts at Shaw Resources to discuss all of your agricultural projects and unique needs.