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Renovating a Pasture

The Question

I am renting (3 year deal) a new pasture with what is assumed to be a hearty stand of fescue. The terrain will not allow the pasture to be no tilled. I am currently grazing animals now to help reduce the residual material mass. I would like to attempt to improve the pasture, but am concerned whether frost seeding clover would be a waste of money. Comments or recommendations would be appreciated.

My Answers
  • You need to include a legume. Red and ladino clovers would be a good consideration.  In looking over  red clover variety trial information six months ago, I noted that Cinnamon and Kenland red clover were consistently in the upper bracket for yield.
  • Inoculate the legume seed.
  • Broadcast the seed before green-up occurs in the spring.
  • You are doing the right thing to graze the residue.  You are also saving  on hay feed costs!
  • Graze it to the point that you think most seed broadcast will reach the soil surface.  This probably means graze to a height of less than 3 inches.
  • Has the soil been tested for pH, P and K?  I would like to see pH > 6.2 by seeding and P and K at a high level.
  • Consider dragging the field with a harrow after or as the seed is being broadcast.
  • Reduce competition to the young seedlings by grazing with the cattle (don't graze too aggressively so as to eat the young seedlings) in the early spring or mechanically harvest a portion of the pasture as hay in May.
  • Preferably breed cattle, if a spring-calving herd, on another pasture if the fescue has a high level of endophyte (greater than 50 %).

Back to Forage Issues


Keith Johnson
Professor of Agronomy and Forage Crops Specialist
1150 Lilly Hall of Life Sciences
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1150
phone: 765-494-4800
fax: 765-496-2926
e-mail:johnsonk@purdue.edu 

 

 

For more forage information contact Dr. Keith Johnson: johnsonk@purdue.edu

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