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  #1  
Old 04/08/08, 10:47 AM
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Question A Bold Statement by Greg Judy

In the last issue of * Stockman Grass Farmer * Missouri grazier Greg Judy makes the following statement regarding the use of Nitrogen Fertilizer applied to grazing lands.

Quote " We refuse to buy nitrogen because it kills the active microbes in our soil and leaves the pocket book empty" End Quote.

WOW!...... This flies in the face of what U.S. agriculture is and has been practicing. So is Mr.Judy a radical without a farout viewpoint for preaching such heresey, or is he a prophet who shows the way???

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  #2  
Old 04/08/08, 11:33 AM
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I find his statement TIMELY at least. Even the 'old school' graziers here are
(finally...) having to look for alternatives to nitrogen. It is just costing too much.

Mr. Judy has some interesting comments to make about a lot of aspects of farming, IMO. I try to read what he has to say, though I cannot vouch for the accuracy of it all.

We have had so much rain this spring (here in S. MO) that I think anyone who has spread ANYTHING on their fields....sent it all into the rivers. A waste of cash, to say the very least.

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Old 04/08/08, 11:58 AM
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I would like to hear his proof on how/why it kills the microbes. I would also like to see his alternatives to fertilizer. When you put x number of pounds on x number of calves and off the farm they go, i would love to know the solutions that would repace the organic matter and nutrients that are exported annually. In one of Joel Salatins books he claims that the chicken houses byproducts cause SIDS. When huge bold claims like this are made without substantiation i have found it is usually a crackpot theory.

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Old 04/08/08, 12:41 PM
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Beef11, I agree with the unsubstantiated claims, not just from Salatin or Judy, but many others make in their writings on agriculture. That being said however, I will say in our 15 years of grazing, we have not put any nitrogen into our pastures. We do try to maintain a stand of 30% legumes to do that. That is the recommendation of Dr. Jim Gerrish when he was at the University of Missouri. (That is where Greg Judy first learned about MIG grazing, according to his book.)

We do soil tests every year and they come back fine every year in not just nitrogen, but ph and organic matter as well. The cattle do a fine job fertilizing for us. That being said, we do not take any hay off the pastures. We mow behind the cattle rotation during the lush periods, leaving the clippings on the pasture. Our experience has been that you do not have to use synthetics to achieve soil fertility in pastures as long as your seeding program in the offseason and your pasture rotation in the season is consistent.

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Old 04/08/08, 01:23 PM
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I see alot of operations who have this rape and Pillage mentality for grazing. Putting as many cattle as possible in the program and the expense of the pasture. They then do require supplements to be sustainable. For a long time this was an economical decision. Now with the dynamics of Ag changing things must be thought through again. I'm personally not attached to the pro fertilizer or anti fertilizer crowd.

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Old 04/08/08, 02:26 PM
 
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I am attempting to wean my pastures from purchased fertilizer. I have 22 acres of newly planted grass that appears needing the fertilizer. The older established pastures look good with the recent rains.To date, I have planted a lot of legumes plus I already had some. All animal waste is on the pastures and the nitrogen fixing plants are working. I remain concerned that I am not returning as much nutrient to the plants as the plants have been providing. The county ext. agent was contacted and asked about taking a foliar sample but he stated he did not know what the results would tell since the state does not have any research on pasture plants, the state has concentrated on grains. I guess I will just continue to "wing it" and see for myself. All inputs are appreciated.

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Old 04/08/08, 02:40 PM
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I used fertilizer until last year. By them my clover and lespedeza were flourishing. I spread all my composted manure on the fields and allowed all the cattle's waste to stay where it fell. Muscovy ducks did an excellent job of keeping the piles scattered.

This spring I did my soil tests. They showed that I needed no nitrogen or lime in any of the paddocks, but did need nitrogen and a lot of lime on a new pasture I'm just starting next door. I still needed P and K on my pastures, but obviously the other methods are working to reduce the need for nitrogen.

Last year I used 300# per acre of 19-19-19. The year before it was 500# per acre.

A friend in the next county uses chicken laying litter on his fields. It requires him to vaccinate his cattle with CD/T, but his pastures are superior to all others around here. He told me that the laying litter was better than the broiler litter but it's harder to find. He gets it for just a little over the cost of hauling.

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Old 04/08/08, 02:48 PM
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I should have mentioned that I stock at a rate below capacity during the growing season, but more than the pastures will support during the winter. I import hay during those months. The imported hay helps enrich my pastures.

I have had a lot of success with Pennington's "Patriot" clover. It established itself on pastures that were being heavily grazed and has increased every year. The paddocks that I seeded with ladino clover are way behind the Patriot. The Patriot was very expensive, but I was desperate to get clover established.

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Old 04/08/08, 03:06 PM
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Love this thread!!! Genebo, I use variable stocking, overloading during the lush and backing off in Mid June. Our place is 3 miles from our local sale barn, so that allows us to do that. We don't overstock however. Even during the lush vegatitive period, we mow to put the green manure back to the soil. We feed imported hay also, but we do it in August and September, right before we take our cattle off pasture. Yes, we get weed seed with that hay, but we also get other species of good grass as well.

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Old 04/08/08, 06:12 PM
 
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Litter from a layer house has a much higher ratio of manure to shavings. Layer litter also has the calcium residue that was added to improve the egg shells. It is not necessary to apply lime with layer litter. Layer litter has lots of trace elements also. The layer litter is superior to all other amendments IMO. The only problem is getting enough of it. The price of chicken litter has increased tremendously in reflection to the price of regular fertilizer. We have lots of chicken houses in NC but still have a shortage of litter. I am hearing prices of $100/ton for good litter. Not long back I was getting litter for the clean out fee plus trucking. Anyone here tried Alyce clover? Suppose to provide 200 lbs. of nitrogen per acre. What are we going to do for phosphorous?

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Old 04/09/08, 10:20 AM
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I'm out west where our soil favors the alkaline side of things we never have to lime around here. We also have very hard water that of course has lots of calcium. THe problem we run into is that many areas lack organic matter especially dryland (non irrigated). I would love to figure out a cheap way to add organic matter to these areas and also mine for nutrients but drought hardy plants are defiantly needed. I have been looking at some tall bunch grass types for winter feed in snowy country.

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Old 04/09/08, 11:08 AM
 
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Beef11,
Plant whatever you think may have a chance to live. Never plow! Replant each year in the thin carbon area the decomposing plants generate. Within 5 years you should be able to grow something it that soil. Remember to never turn the soil, this is key as the seed needs this thin layer you are creating. You ever see plants growing in the expansion cracks of concrete? Same principle, carbon builds up in the crack.

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Old 04/09/08, 12:40 PM
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I've thought about getting a contract for sewage sludge. A couple layers of that crud and then no till in a dryland mix and off to the races i go. Problem is that your land has to be in the right spot or the trucking becomes prohibitive.

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Old 04/09/08, 03:27 PM
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Upnorth,
I agree with the quote from Greg Judy. We can't keep trying to make farming pay with the price of ag fertilizer products rising year after year. Planting legumes is a much less stressful way of inputting nitrogen in your ground. These legumes also offer a slower release.

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Old 04/09/08, 03:47 PM
 
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I"m going to have to rely on the lightening and whatever the cows drop this year. Nitrogen is $600.00 a ton. Thats crazy. I have a really good bemuda pasture, but I can't put commercial fertilizer on it, and really don't like to, because I have a creek that it drains into. That also makes it hard to put chicken litter on during the rainy season, I may shoot for this fall with it.
P.J.

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Old 04/11/08, 04:35 PM
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Not to start anything, this is some 'food for thought':

I only use composted manure on my place....I'm not buying into what the gov't 'reccomends'....get away from the N-P-K mentality!!

You need more than three vitamins/minerals to live, so does soil!
We feed our animals minerals because they need them to be healthy.
So does soil. AcresUSA has LOTS of articles on soil and minerals.
Soil is living, treat it as such. It is your 'underground livestock'---not just dirt that hold ups plants and holds some water for them.

You can 'read' the soil, what it is lacking, or too much of something by the weeds that grow there. Read "Weeds--Control without Poisons" by Charles Walters.
You have clover? You have basically good soil. Got Burdock? You are low in calcium....so maybe Mr. Judy DOES know what he is talking about in the article from Stockman Grass Farmer. It's NOT such a far-fetched idea afterall!

Look in the stores--they carry "Plant Food". I've never yet seen "Soil Food". Most commercial fertilizers feed the PLANT, not the soil. AHA! (That is why things like Miracle Gro you have to keep re-applying.) Hey, keeps THEM in the money!

What did our grandparents and great grandparents use? Hmmm, lots cheaper and plenty of it around on a farm.

We have to re-learn things more along the lines of what the 'old timers' used and why. It is cheaper, and the soil, livestock and people all benefit from it. Healthy soil=healthy plants.

Like I said, I'm not trying to start anything, just want to point out some things that are common sense, but not too many people think about......

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Old 04/11/08, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Jay View Post
Not to start anything, this is some 'food for thought':

I only use composted manure on my place....I'm not buying into what the gov't 'reccomends'....get away from the N-P-K mentality!!

You need more than three vitamins/minerals to live, so does soil!
We feed our animals minerals because they need them to be healthy.
So does soil. AcresUSA has LOTS of articles on soil and minerals.
Soil is living, treat it as such. It is your 'underground livestock'---not just dirt that hold ups plants and holds some water for them.

You can 'read' the soil, what it is lacking, or too much of something by the weeds that grow there. Read "Weeds--Control without Poisons" by Charles Walters.
You have clover? You have basically good soil. Got Burdock? You are low in calcium....so maybe Mr. Judy DOES know what he is talking about in the article from Stockman Grass Farmer. It's NOT such a far-fetched idea afterall!

Look in the stores--they carry "Plant Food". I've never yet seen "Soil Food". Most commercial fertilizers feed the PLANT, not the soil. AHA! (That is why things like Miracle Gro you have to keep re-applying.) Hey, keeps THEM in the money!

What did our grandparents and great grandparents use? Hmmm, lots cheaper and plenty of it around on a farm.

We have to re-learn things more along the lines of what the 'old timers' used and why. It is cheaper, and the soil, livestock and people all benefit from it. Healthy soil=healthy plants.

Like I said, I'm not trying to start anything, just want to point out some things that are common sense, but not too many people think about......
I absolutely agree. I often talk about such "unsubstantiated" things with local farmers and get much the same response. I didn't grow up on a farm, so I can think outside the box. Those that did grow up on a farm tend to have pre-concieved ways of doing things and that is the only way. Mr. Judy's proof is in his land and his cattle. I am no expert, my farm is small and the grass is weak, but improving, and I am willing to listen to anyone that has more knowledge than the last guy.

The question that comes to mind, though, is what did folks do 100 years ago before big trucks and loads of fertilizer? They knew how to grow grass, of course (to some degree) They knew that animal poop created more grass, they knew how to mulch and fertilize naturally. Much of Mr. Judy's knowledge comes from a man from Africa who grazes his animals like the wild ones on the plains. Also look at how the buffalo grazed in America, in a huge bunch, densely packed, leaving tons of manure and going on to the next place. The plains were so fertile that pioneers rushed to get there and tame it. Of course, they strip mined it, never putting anything back, but that was rowcropping. We're talking grazing livestock here, and I think there can be much to learn by trying to copy the way wild animals lived.
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Old 04/11/08, 11:24 PM
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Lots of good perspectives here. It seems a consensus that establishing 30% or better of Legumes and utilizing livestock manure and feeding wastes to build tilth and organic matter are key components to farming without purchased fertilizers.
I have felt for some time that such a thing can be done, but it is difficult to find real world farms where it is being done to learn from. I have followed Greg Judy for some time now, and clearly he is an innovator and is willing to risk trying new methods to see if they work. Yet one has to think it through when he makes such bold statements that depict the rest of North American agriculture as "doing it all wrong". This is a big leap to make when one considers the amazing productivity of North American agriculture.

But will it be sustainable? This is the Question.

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Old 04/12/08, 12:22 AM
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Why would it not be sustainable? You just have to learn what is best for your type of soil. No "magic bullet/pill" is going to fix anything overnight. With work, dedication and some reading up on the subject might just open your eyes some more.

Read the 'old time' farming books--pre 1950. WWII is when lots of "commercial" fertilizer came about.
Go to http://www.acresusa.com and have a look around at the archives and past articles. Lots of wonderful 'free' information there to read and digest!

By the way, I did grow up on a farm, but not a "conventional" one. I went to country school K-8 and was surprized to learn about pasteurizing milk when in the 9th grade--first year in "city" school. We'd drank milk from a cow for years, and never questioned it--why should we have? It was NORMAL. The "city kids" who had been taught otherwise freaked.

Yep, we have to think outside the box (without re-inventing the wheel!) to keep afloat.

Oh, I also learned in the "weeds" book aforementioned....thistles tend to thrive in places that anhydrous have been used. Maybe this is why the Midwest has more of a problem than other areas???!!! Another Hmmmm! Maybe these folks DO have a clue of what they are talking about!

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Old 04/12/08, 10:06 AM
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I had a conversation with a neighbor last night about hay and hay prices. He has a beautiful stand of volunteer wheat that he intends to kill, then seed soy beans through it. I said that the price of hay could make it profitable for him to cut and bale the wheat while it's still in top condition.

His reply? That doing so would be harmful to his farm. That it would be like strip mining his farm. He counts on the nutrients from the cover crop to grow the soy beans. If he sold the hay, he would have to replace the lost nutrients with fertilizer. At todays prices, he'd lose money.

We covered some more possibilities, such as putting up temporary fence and renting the wheat fields to let cattle graze. That way he could keep the nutrients. He said he'd consider it if someone else wanted to put up the fencing. Hah! He got me there, because I was having a vision of my cattle wandering through his lush fields.

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Old 04/12/08, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Jay View Post
Why would it not be sustainable? You just have to learn what is best for your type of soil. No "magic bullet/pill" is going to fix anything overnight. With work, dedication and some reading up on the subject might just open your eyes some more.

Read the 'old time' farming books--pre 1950. WWII is when lots of "commercial" fertilizer came about.
Go to http://www.acresusa.com and have a look around at the archives and past articles. Lots of wonderful 'free' information there to read and digest!

By the way, I did grow up on a farm, but not a "conventional" one. I went to country school K-8 and was surprized to learn about pasteurizing milk when in the 9th grade--first year in "city" school. We'd drank milk from a cow for years, and never questioned it--why should we have? It was NORMAL. The "city kids" who had been taught otherwise freaked.

Yep, we have to think outside the box (without re-inventing the wheel!) to keep afloat.

Oh, I also learned in the "weeds" book aforementioned....thistles tend to thrive in places that anhydrous have been used. Maybe this is why the Midwest has more of a problem than other areas???!!! Another Hmmmm! Maybe these folks DO have a clue of what they are talking about!
Something kind of funny to note here. The guy from Africa that got Mr. Judy going on mob density grazing came to do a seminar at the Judy farm. After the seminar, the man looked at the farm and told Mr. Judy that it was not sustainable. :baby04: The Judy's were grazing three herds in three locations (I forget how the herds were divided) and putting in a lot of extra time and money. After combining most of the animals, the Judy's suddenly had time for each other.
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Old 04/12/08, 01:06 PM
 
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Great discussion! We use MIG, rotating herd every day through 6 paddocks and our pastures look green and lush - especially compared to all our neighbors. I was considering fertilizing with chicken manure this year in half the paddocks but, Genebo, your quote "A friend in the next county uses chicken laying litter on his fields. It requires him to vaccinate his cattle with CD/T" caught my eye. What is that vaccination for? I was not aware that the chicken litter could infect the cattle with something?

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Old 04/12/08, 01:20 PM
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Don't know if it would interest anyone but there are organically approved bagged fertilizer from such companies as Fertrell, North American Kelp.. seaweed extract, fish emulsion, etc.

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Old 04/12/08, 01:50 PM
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I was not aware of any cattle 'needing' shots after spreading chicken manure. I think ALOT of it would depend on WHERE you get it.
Commercial chicken factory--or feedlot/confined hog manure? Anything from conventional CAFO will have what you don't want in it. (I worked in one for three+ years. I know what goes on 'behind the scene's!')
Yes, I would take neccesary precautions. Homegrown/free ranging chicken litter? Nope, I wouldn't worry.

Something YOU grow/use you know what IS and ISN"T in it. (Drugs, etc.)
This goes for anything: crops, garden, cows, chickens, hogs, etc. YOU are in control of what you eat and grow. You aren't 'contracted' with so-n-so to buy XX amount of whatever 'cause it is the latest and greatest whatever.

Genebo--your neighbor is on the right track. You don't feel like putting in miles of electric fence for a few weeks?!! Been there, done that!
Tom McL--but people have to 'read up' to know HOW to use these minerals, er, manures....they aren't "conventional"....but that is the glory of it!!

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Old 04/12/08, 03:24 PM
 
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One of my favorite books is "The ALBRECHT Papers" It's very sceintific with experiments (sort of thing I love). For those of you who want to know the "why" of the statement to not use nitrogen fertilizer this book is a must. He highly recommends liming but not nitrogen. He shows exactly what is going on in the soil, how it affects the livestock, and how adding nitrogen from petrolaim products kills the soil and starts a whole series of problems with your livestock (yes, where is spell check when you need it). This is nothing new. It's just not the fastest way to grow grass which seems to be the point these days. He prefers to grow quality first and then quantity will follow as the ground improves. We add lime and nothing else at our place (except for what the animals add) and so far are very happy with the results.

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Old 04/12/08, 03:57 PM
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Jay, Fertrell will make any recommended mix needed from soil test and is approved.

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Old 04/12/08, 06:55 PM
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A Bold Statement

A few days ago I posted a question about fertilizing my pastures. Message from Jay sent me here and am I glad to read all these ideas. Thanks, Jay.

I'm all for trying something new, but what to do now? Most of the posts seem not to cut hay for winter (?). But that's exactly what I need to do. Last year hay here in NC was scarce and low quality and very, very expensive. I want my pastures to grow (as I rotate my very small herd) so I can get hay off my fields so I know where that hay came from.

Agmantoo -- where are you in zone 7, NC? Is it too late to add clover to the pastures?

What can I do NOW? I'm all for doing something besides adding nitrogen and chemical fertilizers. I just don't want to be stuck next winter.

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Old 04/12/08, 09:27 PM
 
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Doc,
Obviously I do not know what your pastures are at this time. I too have had a rough time during the severe drought but I am coming out of it provided we continue to get rain. If your existing grasses are diminishing from grazing at a faster rate than they are regenerating something needs to be done. It is too late to plant ryegrass and to early to plant pearl millet. It is not to late to get ready to plant the millet but you have to have enough grazing to get you through not less than 60 days once the millet is planted. I do the rotational grazing and I have forage for at least 2 months at this time. My neighbor does not have enough forage and is still feeding purchased hay and we both have approximately the same ratio of animals to acreage. Doing rotational grazing is not having 6 or 8 or even 10 paddocks. Doing rotational grazing is providing plenty of grazing for the animals and moving them on to an area that has rested and has had a chance to recover from the previous forage removal. In some instances for example, I can graze the herd (100plus cows/heifers/calves/bulls) on 7tenths of an acre/day and at other times it may take 2 acres+. The main goals are to provide forage for the herd and at the same time not to stress the forages allowing a quick recovery. Prior to the drought I went for 4 1/2 years without feeding any hay so I know it works and over time I have learned how to maximize the system. . Doing the rotational grazing is not labor intensive nor is it as machine dependent as conventional cattle operations. My beef cattle are not at the farm where I live. On the short trip to the beef operation I observe the neighbors working hard in the hot and the cold. It somewhat has an impact on me knowing how little I do and how difficult it is for them. I know that I am the low cost producer and I question in my mind as to how do they "make It". I remain a one man operation and those in the community that raise cattle the conventional way either have family help or hired.

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Old 04/12/08, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Doc View Post
A few days ago I posted a question about fertilizing my pastures. Message from Jay sent me here and am I glad to read all these ideas. Thanks, Jay.

I'm all for trying something new, but what to do now? Most of the posts seem not to cut hay for winter (?). But that's exactly what I need to do. Last year hay here in NC was scarce and low quality and very, very expensive. I want my pastures to grow (as I rotate my very small herd) so I can get hay off my fields so I know where that hay came from.

Agmantoo -- where are you in zone 7, NC? Is it too late to add clover to the pastures?

What can I do NOW? I'm all for doing something besides adding nitrogen and chemical fertilizers. I just don't want to be stuck next winter.
I think it was Jim Gerrish that wrote a book "Get the Hay out!" or something to that effect. I haven't read it, but would love to.

The thing I get from most of the MiG people is that everything can be done NOW, but results come later. In other words, you will have to keep feeding hay until your soil is built up. I am starting with the basics. This ground is acidic, so I researched and asked around and found some grass species that will grow in our soil along with a good Legume. The key is to put back what is taken out. The animals do a great job of that except that they, too, lack minerals and nutrients. It really is a combination of things. Good nutrition and good soil, but you can't have one without the other. Alan Nation says to start a new MiG program in the fall, not the spring. Spring is easy to manage with the grass explosion. But in the fall, things get more dificult and where most lose their nerve. Stockpiling a good cool season grass (Tall Fescue, Orchard Grass, Ceral Rye or Annual Rye for examples) and managing it through the winter. In the late winter, very early spring is when to plant. Frost seeding is my method of choice. A 30% legume mixture is ideal, but no more. I would say that sowing now is not too late as most legumes are warm season and won't grow well untill warmer weather anyway. But, this all takes time. In 5 years of management, I should be able to "get the hay out!" So can you. Plan your work, and work your plan.
(Click below and visit my blog to read what I've learned from Alan Nation of the StockmanGrassfarmer.)
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  #30  
Old 04/12/08, 09:46 PM
Cedar Cove Farm
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: MO
Posts: 1,663

By the way, since it was mentioned, we are a Fertrell dealer in southern Missouri and would love to assist anyone in our area.

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Cedar Cove Farm

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