When Does Fertilizing Pasture Pay? – Part 2

Last week, Bruce Anderson shared information about break even points when it comes to spending money on nitrogen fertilizer for pastures. This week, we get some additional information to consider from Sid Bosworth, Extension Professor at the University of Vermont. Grasses have a high demand for nitrogen (N). Grass hay trials have shown
 that some grasses will respond in yield up to 300 and even 400 lbs. of actual
 N per acre per year. The economic “break even” application rate of N
 depends on the cost of N fertilizer and the value of the hay crop. For hay,
 this is generally between 100 and 200 lbs. N/acre split two to four times per year, depending on the particular grass specie, soil type and weather
 conditions. For pasture, the decision to apply N becomes more complicated. Here are a few points to consider when making N fertilizer decisions. • A Management Tool - Think of N fertilizer as a short term management tool for producing temporary increases in pasture dry matter. N applied to grass usually shows an immediate response and then it is gone. For your farm, you may decide that you don’t need N at all or you only want to use it on certain acres for certain times of the year. • Stocking rate – A farm should consider if they need the extra forage that will be produced by adding N fertilizer. Some farms have more land than their animals need and adding N would just add to the pasture waste. On the other hand, if the operation is stocked rig

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2 thoughts on “When Does Fertilizing Pasture Pay? – Part 2

  1. I live in southern Wisconsin. A neighbor has a pasture and he put down 3 applications of nitrogen over 2 years and almost doubled his stocking rate. 5 years later it has not changed. The grass really filled in and became much thicker.

    I have just done things with manure and gradually built up my stocking rate. I have wondered many times over the years how much further ahead I would have been with 3 or 4 applications of 40 pounds of nitrogen per year per acre for 2 years. Allan Nation said keeping it under 40 pounds would not hurt the soil.

  2. Re: A $40 per acre investment in lime which promotes legume growth may be a better way of adding “N” to pasture compared to a $40 investment in N fertilizer which only has a short term effect.

    I wonder how many lbs./tons this is. I live in central B.C., far from any lime quarries and several years ago paid about $300/tonne. Yikes.

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