Old pasture

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Rob30, Jan 9, 2005.

  1. Rob30

    Rob30 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Any ideas on how to resead an old pasture? I don't want to plow it under. It is to thin for haying. I want to thicken it up and add some clover and trefoil to the mix. I hope to devide it and hay some of it and use some for pasture. On a rotation.
     
  2. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    Rob, I posed a similar question not long ago and seems most response is to seed at early spring if there is freeze thaw conditions. That drives the seed into the ground cracks for germination when it's warm enough.
    Trefoil is apparently a hit or miss crop that can be short lived or overtaken by other pasture growth. I am thiniking you'll do okay with seeding clover without tilling, but check on what is growing there now. Some grasses and the moisture conditions may affect the clover growth.
    Also, you'll be asked what you intend to pasture. Some clovers aren't good for horses and other animals.
    I have an old pasture that is in a lot of regrowth with trefoil from season to season. Another area of pasture is devoid of that and gone to plants like goldenrod, mixed with red clover and some mixed white daisy and buttercup. Some of those wild plants can be no good for some pasture animals. I would like to find a way to have those overgrown with good pasture.
     

  3. BJ

    BJ Well-Known Member

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    We bought an old farm with pastures that had been overgrazed and were overgrown with osage orange, red cedars, and wild roses. We spent a lot of time removing the old trees & shrubs and individually treating the stumps. We sent samples of soil from each pasture to the local FSA office for testing and found we needed to first spread lime that fall. In the very early spring we then seeded with a good horse pasture mix blend (no fescue). Overseeded with lespesdeza for extra legumes. We had good gentle spring rains and lots of sunshine. We had a fairly good hay crop that fall...but still too many weeds. The next spring we seeded another round of good pasture mix...and now we have good pastures for grazing our cows..and some good hay too! If your pastures are short, you apply a good blended seed, and mother nature is kind...you will have good hay in a year or two. :)
     
  4. Reformed_Farmer

    Reformed_Farmer Member

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    Frost seeding works most of the time. I would definitly have the soil checked. It probably needs some lime. We have been reestablishing about 100 acres of pasture for the dairy herd without doing any plowing. I have been amazed that just grazing it improves the pastures quite a bit. We put manure on it in the fall and some in the winter. You can seed clover and let the cows walk it in in the spring also. Don't fight the land.....plant what grows good in the area. There are some newer types of orchard grass that don't head out to early now. They make a good stand that will last a while.
     
  5. Lolli Pop

    Lolli Pop Member

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    My Great Uncle who is in his 70's and been a rancher all his life told me, then showed me what he does to improve his pastures. He also warned me that my neighbors would think I "fell off the turnip truck" but it does work great! He uses the large round bales of hay. Puts them out across his fields and removes all tie wires. Then he just lets them decompose. (the wildlife eat on them) He sets them about 100 feet apart at first and as they start to decompose he comes back in and sets more in the holes inbetween. The hay acts as a compost and the seeds that are in the hay start sprouting along the edges. He drove me around his ranch and pointed out hay piles in different stages of decomposition and the ones that were ground level had lots of green sprouts coming up in it. Now he cuts his own hay, so this doesn't cost him what it would someone else, but I bet farmers would sell the "weather ruined" piles out pretty cheaply. Worth asking anyway if it's not feed quailty! I know it sounds nutty, but it does work really well! He has the thickest most beautiful pastures around! Best Wishes PnG
     
  6. spring77

    spring77 Well-Known Member

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    The trick with pastures is to take care of them like any other crop. The reason pastures get full of goldenrod or brush is because of neglect. If the pasture your working on has been hayed year after year without anything going back on it, you have a bigger problem than not having enough of the right species in the stand. The reason the right species aren't there is because the soil no longer favors them. If the pH is to low and nitrogen and potassium is low then no matter what you seed it won't stick around long. The weeds you have coming on in the pasture will out compete them and choke them out. The best thing to do for a pasture is to first make sure the pH comes back into the right range for legumes. So you'll probably have to lime it. Then see what happens. Often when you make a change like that the legumes will come back on their own from dormant seed or the few plants that were hanging on. Then you don't even have to seed it. Grasses will recover when the legumes do because the legumes will be providing the nitrogen. Grass will outcompete the weeds given adequate nitrogen. Pasture weeds are unable to compete with strongly growing grass.
    Basically if you take care of the soil it will take care of the plants. If you can get some manure and lime on it to get the fertility back you will see some changes. A great way to add fertility if you are into it is poultry. They eat the grass but they leave a lot more on the field from manure than they take. When I pull my chicken tractor over my pasture you can see it turning greener and lusher on the spot they were about a week and a half ago. Not sure if you are interested or set up for this though.
    I guess what I'm trying to say is if you fix the soil fertility you might not even need to seed it, if you seed it without changing the fertility you may be wasting your money.
     
  7. Rob30

    Rob30 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks for the isdas. I bought the farm in August and was unable to even walk the property until snow began falling. About 6-7 acres of the property has trefoil growing like crazy. But the remaining 30-40 cleared acres was used for grazing horses and some goats. The fields have some weeds and the grass is thin. I will be getting a soil test in the spring. I imagine it will need lime, maybe fertilizer. I plan to frost seed some legumes in the spring. Then graze it in rotations with goats, sheep, cattle, chickens and turkeys.
    Is there anyway to effect ph without lime?
    What would the best way to spread lime? I can't get to much in the way of equipment. My priority is to purchase hay equipment for the hayable acerage.
     
  8. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

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    rob depends on where in ont. you are. most lime sellers also offer spreading. how big a tracter have you got and what type of soil? with that much trefoil already establised should not be hard to get it growing every where! also age of livestock using the pasture?im near(well they say were part of it)ottawa
     
  9. Rob30

    Rob30 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I am in Mattawa. I have young livestock. 6 Goats 1-2 yrs old, 2 calves about 800lbs, and some poultry. I will be getting 4-5 sheep and 2-3 pigs in the spring. I have a david browm 880 about 40hp with a loader. As far as the soil goes I am not sure. I have to get it tested. The nieghbour spread some lime last fall, so I am going to ask him about it.
     
  10. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    Check out the book, All Flesh is Grass by Gene Logsdon. He covers this subject quite extensively. I like most of his books, because I like his attitude. He goes for maximum efficiency on his land, and and knows pretty well, when he's reached "enough".

    With the acreage you have, I'd also check out the books by Joel Salatin to get some ideas about the rotation bit. Pastured Poultry Profits and Salad Bar Beef.
     
  11. kathrynlmv

    kathrynlmv Well-Known Member

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    Just a note Rob30, on another slant. There are many many species of birds that can only breed and nest in overgrown pastures. I had many acres of such, that I was unable to take care of, and consequently suffered guilt, until I started bird-watching and reading on the needs of various birds. kathrynlmv
     
  12. kathrynlmv

    kathrynlmv Well-Known Member

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    Any organic matter going back into the soil will work towards neutralizing the ph....kathynlmv
     
  13. travlnusa

    travlnusa Well-Known Member

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    Another idea to "plant" the seed is to put up small paddocks, and spread the seed at the rate per acre you want it, then let the cattle into the paddock. Having high numbers in a small area will allow the hoofs work the seed in.

    I did this when I added an alfalfa designed for grazing and it worked great. Increased my gain per day that more than paid for any seed/lime cost.
     
  14. Mutti

    Mutti Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sheep will improve your pasture...really. Our old farm was overgrown with weeds when we moved here. Had about 20 sheep and they relished the weeds and we could see a noticible decline in the weeds in one season. Brush hogging every month, not real low also helped. We overseeded in early spring during a rainy week with sweet clover and lespedeza and got a good crop...enough that in two years we took off 400 bales of hay!! We don't get the snow that makes it easy to cast seed on and let nature work it into the soil like you probably get in Ontario...the method we used when we lived in MI...of course we had actual sandy loam soil there instead of acidy rocks! We also limed our fields and the expense was worth it. We have 8 cows and two horses and thirty acres of pasture divided into three pastures that feds them well 10 months a year....have to really watch the wt. of the horses so we don't founder them. Also,what looks like lots of grass to you can look like stale food to cows..really. Turn them into a new field they haven't tromped over and pooped on and they just bloom...then go into the last field and break up the manure, we used an old bedsprings(!)...read somewhere that cows won't eat for so many feet around a manure pile and horses won't eat around any so you have to manage this,too. Managing the pastures can really save you money as grass if the natural feed for ruminants and horses...not grain. Grain is high in MO as it is not a grain-producing state but good hay is available as this is cattle country in the south. DEE