Taking Stock

cowsHere are a few suggestions to start the move to healthier pastures.

  • Soil Test. Forages are crops, and they need nutrients. Knowing soil fertility levels helps you target your fertilizer dollar to the most needed fields. Thankfully pasture fertility levels don’t change as much as hay fields, since most are returned in the manure and urine.
  • Find ways to remove dense canopies of dead grass such as close mowing or brief periods of mob grazing. This allows sunlight to reach the crowns of cool season grass and initiate new tillers (which emerge next spring).
  • Nitrogen is an important tool to rejuvenate grass pasture. Consider applying nitrogen in the spring to a damaged pasture and harvest it as hay.
  • Upgrade your fencing and water plan for better utilization in 2019. Having water points centrally located in a pasture so livestock are always within 600 to 800 feet of water will result in more uniform grazing. UK will be offering Fencing Schools and Grazing Schools this spring that focus on pasture layout.
  • Address the production slump of mid and late summer that happens with cool season grasses. Consider summer annuals, a deep rooted legume like red clover or alfalfa and even native warm season grasses. All these options have payoffs that offset up front costs and management requirements.
  • Target some fields for complete renovation. Reseed these fields to cool season grass in late summer. One or two burn down sprays with glyphosate will help insure successful re-establishment.

Happy Foraging. ~ Jimmy Henning, Farmer’s Pride, Dec.