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Which Pastures Should You Work on Improving When You Have Limited Resources?

By   /  June 13, 2016  /  4 Comments

You might feel like that high-scoring pasture is your top performer, so you should give it what it needs, like you would any diva. But your biggest payback will be in helping the under-performing pasture that has potential, but is lagging because it’s deficient in nutrients, organic matter, or pH.

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Researchers comparing high and low fertility soils in Wisconsin pastures, concluded that the best ch
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About the author

Author and editor emeritus

Rachel's interest in sustainable agriculture and grazing has deep roots in the soil. She's been following that passion around the world, working on an ancient Nabatean farm in the Negev, and with farmers in West Africa's Niger. After returning to the US, Rachel received her M.S. and Ph.D. in agronomy and soil science from the University of Maryland. For her doctoral research, Rachel spent 3 years working with Maryland dairy farmers using management intensive grazing. She then began her work with grass farmers, a source of joy and a journey of discovery.


  1. Christian says:

    We are in the same position in northern Ontario Canada. We ammed with spent grain from the local micro brewery (24% nitrogen , small amounts of minerals) and feed it to our chickens and Cows who move it around for us. We spread it in areas the cows wont go to for a while and mix in wood chips (carbon) from the local fire wood processor. we put down approx 10000 lbs a week and in a year have covered 15 acres of pasture.Still going strong. We have noticed a strong return in flowering plants and grasses, and a reduction in mosses and thick spindly plants. Some people will disagree with feeding the SG to cows but its at their choice and they come running. Its a free way to amend the pastures and we saw a greater return in it than liming sandy soil. Good luck!

  2. Frank Egan says:

    G’day, generally speaking poor pastures are a result of deficiency in the soil/sub soil.But instead of applying the necessary elements to the soil why not feed a ‘complete mineral mix”(recipe provided on request) directly to the stock?Our soils are more acid than the ones stated but by approaching the problem differently we have overcome the majority of the problems associated with it as the stocks improved health shows.Another strategy we employed was to fence out a small area(about 1 ac)at the intersection of say 3 paddocks and allow the grasses there to flower and seed for at least 1 year,only grazing at a non-critical period to replenish fertility from the stock.This little paddock will reward you with seeds carried by wind ,stock and wildlife to the adjoining paddocks and so over time increase diversity of species in the surrounding paddocks
    Has the farmer ever considered a “deep litter system” in the barn? Instead of continually cleaning out the bedding ,why not just add more?The decomposing bedding generate heat in the process and by the end of Winter it is almost all composted and you only clean it out “once”.Frank.

  3. Gene Schriefer says:

    If you have the same soil type across the grazing areas, it makes cents to get the least fertile up to optimum. It there is variation is soil type and productivity I’d focus on managing my best soils to their capacity first, before focusing on lower quality soil.

    soil pH. If it’s that costly to import liming material, why not grow a legume such as trefoil which can tolerate a lower pH?

    • Geralyn Devereaux says:

      Look into biochar additions to deep litter and over standing forage in areas of low PH. Well made char acts like an anchor for nutrients and a flywheel for micro-biota. Steps up the livability to microbes and holds onto nutrients when trampled in. It can be made on site if there is debris clean up to be done by burning.

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