Looking for tips on maximizing your pasture’s productivity? Let’s dig into practices and management tactics to help establish the most productive pasture.
Tip #1: Discover What’s Below
Although you may be able to pinpoint areas in your pasture that need extra attention, to truly discover the full potential of your field, it is always best to complete a soil test. Soil tests not only determine the pH of your soil, but also discover the nutrients your field has an abundance of, or is lacking. This will show you if your fields are receiving enough fertilization to ensure maximum production. If you find your soil profile is acidic, consider applying lime to reduce the soil acidity levels.
Tip #2: Grazing the Right Amount
Yep, it’s true, you can both over-graze and under-graze your pasture. Over-grazing your pasture is more noticeable than under-grazing, signaled by a slower growth rate of forage or grass. This will increase your pasture’s water runoff, and you will see your pasture’s quality decrease. Due to the slower growth rate, this will increase your pasture’s water runoff, and you will be able to visibly see the quality of your pasture decrease.
In an under-grazed pasture, forage and grass begins to accumulate, creating an abundance of buildup that develops in your pasture, resulting in a more woody and stalky texture.
Tip #3: Seed Selections – What’s Right For Your Pasture?
Selecting a pasture seed variety isn’t as simple as it sounds. Many elements factor into selecting the perfect pasture variety for you. When determining your seed variety, it’s best to select a variety that has been proven to work in your geographic area, soil profile, and also with your land’s topography. Consider planting a combination of seed varieties in your pasture to bring an abundance of nutrients and benefits to your pasture.
We also suggest considering planting legumes in your pasture, as they are high in nutrients and release nitrogen into the soil, which will help improve your pasture’s quality. It may be best to determine what types of forages and grasses your livestock prefer, as this will help develop less rough patches in your pastures that your herd tends to stay away from.
Tip #4: Develop A Grazing Strategy
Developing a grazing strategy not only benefits you as the herd manager, ensuring your herd will have enough food sources to last throughout the year, but also helps the livestock develop a routine, too. Grazing strategies are important in livestock operations, as they give your pasture a chance to revive itself and build up a luscious crop before you turn your herd loose into the pasture again. Be sure you have a secure grazing plan where your pastures will not become over- or under-grazed between cycles. If you missed this section, head back up to Tip #2. Your pasture will begin to further develop once a grazing plan is put into place. Avoid letting your herd graze any pasture that has less than three to five inches of pasture crop.
Tip #5: Maintaining A Successful Pasture
With enough time and care, any pasture can become highly productive. If you are noticing bare spots in your pasture, consider over-seeding anywhere from 10-15 pounds per acre. Over-seeding will prevent bare spots from occurring after grazing. Over-seeding may be your first step to developing a productive pasture, but what is needed during the growing season? Mowing your pastures three to four times a year will help reduce bare spots and overgrowth in certain areas of your pasture where your herd may not graze as frequently. Mowing your pasture also helps with weed management. If your pasture is more susceptible to weeds, consider applying a herbicide. However, check for any flowering or seeds within your pasture, as you will want to avoid applying any herbicide during this time to prevent the spread of weeds in your pasture.