Today has been brought to you by the letter P: Planting peas in pasture

Jeff Rasawehr is a pea promoter.  He started planting peas as cover crops about 8 years ago. Of his early experience he says, "I would warn any pea practitioners that you will shake your head some days in the first 5 years." Winter kill and figuring out planting procedures made getting them going tough.  But he kept at it because, when it comes to fixing nitrogen in the soil, puny peas pack a powerful punch.  Here's what he's learned along the way. Pea Pluses Peas collect nitrogen and improve the soil for future crops.  In just 7 to 8 days, the peas germinate and start setting roots which provides exudates to the soil.  When they are just 2 to 3 inches tall they already have root nodules to begin doing this. The peas' roots interact with rhizobia bacteria in the soil to develop these root nodules (little bumps) for nitrogen fixation.  If you leave the peas (shoots and roots) in the field, the N will be there for plants in the future, providing about 100-150 lbs of N per acre. Since it costs about $50/acre to plant the peas, they are similar in cost to adding N fertilizer, but they add more to the soil health than your average sack of chemical N. Peas also pack some powerful protein for your livestock.  If you harvest peas as they begin flowering, their protein is over 20%.  Peas also can provide a lot of forage.  While most of the wo

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