Plant growth under rotational grazing

Previously in our on-going series on the science of plant growth and grazing we talked about timing grazing and haying based on the secrets of photosynthesis, and how the height of the sun changes how tall our pasture canopy should be in order to capture the most sunlight possible. Now we're going to take those two parts and turn it into something you can use to help you plan your rotational grazing system. Here's what we know so far: The green leaves of the forb or grass are the solar collectors gathering energy for the plant. When leaves are completely removed from a plant, new growth is dependent entirely on stored energy reserves. When some leaf area is left, plant regrowth is often faster since it is powered by photosynthesis and reserve carbohydrates. What this means to us as graziers is that the shorter we graze our pastures, the longer it will take them to recover. Here's an example from a year in a pasture in West Virginia on a mixed grass-clover pasture. The pasture was allowed to grow to 3000 lbs/acre of dry matter (DM) forage mass. Then it was grazed to 1500 pounds. From the graph you can see that it took about 30 days for the grass to rebound from 1500 pounds to 3000 pounds DM. Of course sunshine isn't the only thing a plant needs to grow. You can see that when dry weather hit in mid-September, reg

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