Here's how to rejuvenate pastures
Editor's note: The following information was provided by the Todd County Natural Resources Conservation Service.
We often here people tell us their pastures are run out and they need to plow it up, plant corn and reseed it. In order to grow healthy livestock, you need quality pasture. The quality of forages results from our management activities and soil conditions.
The first step is to identify what the real problem is. Do you have poor soil fertility? Grazing livestock will return some nutrients back to the soil but may not be evenly distributed. If you are taking hay off your pasture, you are removing many more nutrients. Before tearing up your pasture, take a soils test. Know what nutrients and pH you need to support the forages you are trying to grow.
Remember not all weeds are bad as some may be quite nutritious, but others may be on the noxious weed list or poisonous and need to be controlled. If using pesticides, read the label, know the restrictions exclusion time for grazing after spraying.
Overgrazing and livestock trailing results in compacted soils and will determine what type of site prep you need. You may need to till to break the compaction layer. Or introducing deep-rooted forages such as alfalfa, brassicas and clovers to penetrate compacted soils. If you need to diversify your forages, consider frost seeding clovers.
Instead of planting corn, consider planting annuals or season-long cover crop that can be used for forage. Small grains, pearl millet, sorghum-sudan, forage turnip or radish, clovers or vetch would be some choices.
Remember, if you are feeding on pastures this winter and creating a manure pack, you may be subject to feedlot rules. Check with NRCS/SWCD to properly locate feeding areas properly and to manage them correctly.
For further information on rejuvenating pastures, contact your local NRCS office at 320-732-6618, ext. 3, or stop in at 607 9th ST NE in Long Prairie.