Presentation on theme: "Terry E. Poole Extension Agent Frederick County, MD"— Presentation transcript:
1 Terry E. Poole Extension Agent Frederick County, MD Pasture ManagementTerry E. PooleExtension AgentFrederick County, MDIf you are using PowerPoint, simply hit the F5 key to play the slideshow like a movie!!!
2 Why Manage Pastures? Pastures are profitable * Grazed forage is a good, cheap feed.* Pastures are inexpensive to develop and maintain.* Animals do the harvesting, therefore there is a reduction in the need for machine harvesting, and forage handling.* While on pasture, animals spread manure in the field, reducing hauling.Pastures can help to contribute to farm profitability. The grazed forage provided is usually of good quality and is very inexpensive feed. Pastures are typically inexpensive to establish and maintain. Grazing animals do the harvesting, so there is little need for forage harvesting and handling equipment. While on pasture, animals spread their own manure, so manure hauling is reduced.
3 Why Manage Pastures?Protects surface and groundwater from nutrient pollution.* Pastures act as a filler to screen out and trap soil particles, which contain nutrients such as N and P.* The captured nutrients are then utilized by the pasture plants once these nutrients have moved into the root zone of the soil.Pastures protect surface and groundwater from nutrient pollution. Pasture plants act as filters to screen out and trap soil particles, which contain nutrients such as N and P. The pasture plants then utilize the trapped nutrients.
4 Why Manage Pastures? Reduces soil erosion * The above ground growth of pasture plants lessons the impact of rain drops on the soil surface and also slows down the surface runoff of water across the field.* Pasture plant root systems bind the soil together, thereby holding it in place.* Most pastures keep the soil covered year around, unlike annual crops.Pastures help to reduce soil erosion. Above ground growth of pasture plants lesson the impact of raindrops on the soil surface and also slows down the surface runoff of water across the field. Pasture plant root systems bind together the soil to hold it in place. Permanent pasture provides year-around protection to the soil unlike annual row crop fields.
5 Why Manage Pastures? Improves forage yield and quality * Plants that are maintained at the optimum fertility level and are not stressed by pests or by poor grazing management will be more productive.* Healthy, productive plants will provide a quality product.* Healthy plants will have a higher nutritional value for grazing animals.Properly managed pastures will provide the producer with improved forage quality and yield. Plants that are maintained at the optimum fertility level and are not stressed by pests, or by poor grazing management will be more productive. Healthy, productive plants will provide a quality product with a higher nutritional value.
6 Why Manage Pastures? Reduces weeds and improves esthetics * Weeds are opportunistic; they will move rapidly into an open area or an area occupied by a weaker plant.* Weeds cannot gain a foothold in a field with vigorously growing plants.* A clean, weed free pasture reflects well on your farm management skills and how people passing by view your farm.Properly managed pastures have fewer weeds and look better. Weeds are opportunistic and will quickly infest thinned or barren areas of a pasture. Weeds cannot gain a foothold in a field with healthy, vigorously growing plants. Clean, weed-free pastures reflect well on a producer’s management skills.
7 Grazing ManagementProtecting pasture plant root reserves and maintaining plants in a vegetative state are keys to a good pasture.Overgrazing reduces root reserves, which shrinks the root system and leads to fewer leaves being produced; plants also take longer to recover from grazing.Under grazing reduces quality and yield as over-mature plants become less vigorous and more fibrous.Important keys to good pasture management include protecting plant root reserves and maintaining pasture plants in a vegetative state (not reproductive). Over grazing reduces root reserves, which shrinks the root system and leads to fewer leaves being produced. This causes plants to take longer to recover from grazing. Under grazing reduces forage quality and yield as over-mature plants become less vigorous and more fibrous. As plants mature from the leafy vegetative state, the percentage of stems to leaves increases.
8 Grazing Affects Plant Growth Wow, that stuff I learned in the pasture management class sure did work!Important keys to good pasture management include protecting plant root reserves and maintaining pasture plants in a vegetative state (not reproductive). Over grazing reduces root reserves, which shrinks the root system and leads to fewer leaves being produced. This causes plants to take longer to recover from grazing. Under grazing reduces forage quality and yield as over-mature plants become less vigorous and more fibrous. As plants mature from the leafy vegetative state, the percentage of stems to leaves increases.
9 Forage Regrowth Slow to recover at first Rapid growth after recovery Slow after rapid growth periodUnder normal conditions, after grazing, plants are slow to recover as they re-grow leaves. Then there follows a period of rapid growth as the new leaves begin to capture sunlight and the plant replaces root reserves. After the root reserves are replaced, plant growth slows down.
10 A Good Grazing Rule of Thumb Take half Leave halfIn the long run, the animals will have more forage to graze. It is similar to priming the pump.Do you drink that cup of water, or do you risk it priming the pump for an unlimited supply?Take half – leave half means that grazing animals are only allowed to remove one-half of the plant height and then are moved to another pasture. This seems like there is a lot of forage let in the pasture, however the animals will have more forage to graze in the long run as the pasture plants recover more rapidly. This process is similar to priming a pump.
11 Grass Morphology Each grass species tolerates grazing differently. Each grass species tolerates grazing differently. Low growing species like kentucky bluegrass and Bermuda grass have prostrate grow habits with leaves close to the ground. After grazing there are still enough leaves left for these grass plants to recover. Tall growing grass species like orchardgrass and timothy have more upright growth patterns with few leaves close to the soil. Heavy grazing leaves only stems left to recover. Understanding the plant species in a pasture is important to good management.
12 Influence of Stage of Growth on Plant Nutrient Content Red CloverNutrients Stages of Growth%DM Leafy Bud E. Blm L. BlmC.PPKMgCaSource: Forage-Animal Management Systems by Roy BlaserThe stage of harvest of forage plants has the most important factor in evaluating forage quality. The following slides will show how the nutritional value of both grasses and legumes declines as plants mature from the vegetative state to the reproductive state.
13 Influence of Stage of Growth on Plant Nutrient Content OrchardgrassNutrient Stage of Growth%DM Leafy Boot Head BloomC.PPKMgCaSource: Forage-Animal Management Systems by Roy BlaserThis slide looks at the stage of plant growth nutrient values on red clover. Note the protein level decline as the clover matures. Beyond early bloom the protein value really drops.
14 Grazing Management Controls Plant Growth and Pasture Composition Clover will overtake grassesgrazed down below 2 inches.Clovers recover more rapidlyfrom close grazing than ourcool season grasses, allowinga head start in growth.Animal grazing pressure can manage the amount of clover in the pasture. Allowing animals to graze pasture down below two inches allows sunlight to reach the soil surface and slows the recovery of grass plants. This provides good growing conditions for common clover. Grazing management that allows grass plants to recover quickly and keep the soil shaded will restrict clover development.
15 Why Timely Mowing? Mowing prevents plants from becoming over mature. Vegetative plants are more palatable and more nutritious.Mowing helps to control weeds.Flash grazing can work in place of mowing to help reduce excess forage in paddocks.Harvesting excess forage for hay is a good way to fully utilize forage resources.Mowing on a timely basis can prevent plants from becoming over mature. Plants in the vegetative stage are more palatable and nutritious. Mowing will also help to control weeds. During the spring flush of pasture growth, it is often difficult for grazing animals to keep up with excess pasture growth. An alternative to mowing is “flash grazing”. This is a grazing management tool where animals are grazed in a pasture only long enough to set back the rapid growth of the pasture plants, then are moved to another pasture. Harvesting excess forage for hay is another alternative that is a good way to fully utilize forage resources.
16 Why Control Weeds? Weeds: Can get you in trouble, since some have been declared illegal noxious weeds by the State of Maryland.Will make you look bad, since they reflect poorly on your management.Some weeds have been declared illegal noxious weeds by the State. These include johnsongrass, all thistles, and shattercane. It is against the law to let these weeds go to seed on your property. Weeds look bad and reflect poorly on your management.
17 Why Control Weeds? Weeds will: Reduce the stand of desirable plants. Reduce overall quality and yield.Reduce overall animal yield.Poison animals, or affect the animal product when dangerous plant species are present in the pasture.Spread their seeds through manure.
18 Weed Management Cultural Control * mowing * grazing * over seeding * improving fertilityThe most effective weed control programs do not rely only on herbicides, but incorporates them into an overall weed management program along with cultural weed control practices, which minimizes the need for herbicide use. Cultural weed control practices include mowing, grazing, over-seeding, and improving fertility.
19 Weed Management Chemical Control * 2,4-D * Banvel * Crossbow * Ally * Stinger* Spike* RoundupChemical herbicides can effectively kill most broadleaf weeds in pastures. All, except the last two chemicals on the list (Spike and Roundup) are selective, broadleaf herbicides labeled for use on pastures. These herbicides will kill clover. The last two herbicides, Spike and Roundup are non-selective herbicides that are used to spot treat perennial problem weeds.
20 Chemical Weed Control Grazing Restrictions Ally…………………..none2,4-D…………………milk cows, 7 days+Crossbow…………..milk cows, 14 days+Banvel……………….milk cows, 7 days+Roundup…………….livestock, 8 weeksSpike…………………noneStinger……………….noneSome of the herbicides labeled for pastures have grazing restrictions for animals. These restrictions are listed on the slide.
21 Why Plant Fertility Management? Soil testing forms the base of pasture fertility management.Nutrient management planning not only pays, but is now the law.Fertility promotes healthy forage.Healthy forage resists disease and pests and speeds plant recovery.Healthy forage plants resist pest and disease attack and speeds plant recovery from grazing. Plants that are not stressed are more competitive and better able to compete with weeds. Also, by keeping plants healthy and actively growing, they would be less likely to die and create an open area for weeds to start. Nutrient management planning for manure and commercial fertilizer inputs will pay dividends to producers. Soil testing to monitor soil nutrients is an important tool for this process.
22 Why Plant Fertility Management? Healthy forage recovers more rapidly from grazing, stress, and winter.Healthy forage is a more nutritious feed.Healthy forage stands resist weed infestations.Healthy forage stands produce higher yields.Healthy forage stands persist longer.Well-fed, healthy forage plants will recover more rapidly after grazing, stress, and winter. Healthy plants are a more nutritious feed. Well-fed, healthy forage stands will resist weed infestation. Well-fed, healthy forage stands produce higher yields and will have longer life spans.
23 Grasses Need Nitrogen Applications Pure grass stands require timely applications of nitrogen (N).Pastures with less than 25% legumes are considered grass pastures.Pastures with 25% or more legumes do not require additional N.Legumes fix N2 into a form plants can use (clovers,lespedeza, alfalfa, vetch, trefoil).Pastures that contain only grass require timely applications of nitrogen in the form of commercial fertilizer or manure to be productive. Pastures with less than 25% legumes are considered to be grass pastures. Pastures with over 25% legumes do not require additional nitrogen. The legumes with “fix” enough nitrogen to supply the needs of the grasses in the pasture. Legume species found in pastures include: clovers, lespedeza, alfalfa, vetch, and trefoil.
24 Now let’s take a look at animal grazing habits. Now let’s take a look at the grazing habits of our animals. How they graze, directly affects your pasture.
25 Animal Grazing HabitsDifferent animal species have different grazing styles.*cattle and horses cannot eat forage less than one-half inch tall.*sheep and goats can graze level with the soil surface.*fowl will strip the soil bare, eating everything including roots, and insects.Different animal species have different grazing styles. For example, cattle and horses cannot graze forages less than one-half inch tall, sheep and goats can graze level with the soil surface, and fowl will strip the soil bare, eating everything including roots and insects.
26 Don’t even think about it! Animal Grazing HabitsGrazing animals have varied diet selections.*horses are picky eaters, rarely touching weeds and woody plants*goats prefer browse (woody plants) over grassHorses Cattle Sheep GoatsForage 90% % % %Weeds % % % %Browse % % % %Grazing animals have a varied selection in their diet. This variation allows different species of animals to be compatible grazing together in the same pasture. Horses are picky esters, rarely touching weeds and woody plants, while goats prefer browse (woody plants) to grass. The table in the slide shows the grazing preferences of the common pasture animals.Don’t even think about it!
27 Animal Grazing Patterns The time spent grazing differs with animal species:*cattle graze about 8 hrs/day*sheep graze about 7 hrs/day or less*goats graze about 6 hrs/day or less*horses graze between 12 to 16 hrs/dayThe time animals spend grazing varies with species. Cattle graze about 8 hours/day, sheep graze about 7 hours/day or less, goats graze about 6 hours/day or less, and horses graze between 12 to 16 hours/day.
28 Animal Grazing Patterns Most animals prefer not to graze when it is hot:*heaviest grazing occurs 2 to 3 hours after sunset*another preferred grazing period occurs around midnight*on average, 60% of grazing occurs during the day*the other 40% occurs during periods of the nightMost animals prefer not to graze when it is hot. Heaviest grazing takes place 2 to 3 hours after sunset. Another preferred grazing period takes place around midnight. On average, 60% of grazing occurs during the day and the other 40% occurring during periods of the night.
29 Animal Grazing Patterns Grazing periods are not a factor of forage quality or yield.Forage quality is important so that good nutrition can be obtained by the animals during periods of grazing.Grazing periods are not a factor of forage quality or yield. Forage quality is important so that the animals can obtain good nutrition during periods of grazing.
30 Animal Water NeedsGrazing animals can get 70-90% of their water from lush forage, however a good supply of clean water is essential.Animal water needs vary with temperature, humidity, milk production, and diet.Average daily requirements:beef…………………………… gal/daymilk cow…………………………. 30 gal/daysheep……………………………... 1 gal/dayhorses…………………………….. 8 gal/dayGrazing animals can get 70-90% of their water from lush forage, however a good supply of clean water is essential. Animal water needs vary with temperature, humidity, milk production, and diet. The table on the slide shows some average daily water requirements of animals.
31 You cows sure make a mess! Why a Sacrificial Area?It protects pastures from damage.Sacrificial areas are for heavy use.Animals are held in this area when conditions are unsuitable for the pasture.It helps to minimize soil compaction and trampling of the sod.It provides an area for supplemental feeding and animal management.A sacrificial area is critical to good pasture management. A sacrificial area protects pastures from damage. It is for heavy use. Animals are held in this area until pasture conditions are suitable for animals to be allowed in to graze. This helps to minimize soil compaction and sod trampling when the soil is too wet. This is an area where supplemental feeding and animal management practices can be done.You cows sure make a mess!
32 Pasture Seeding New pasture - converting a crop field to pasture Pasture renovation partial (over seeding)- complete (new seeding)Producers converting a crop field into a pasture are considered to be seeding/establishing a new pasture. Producers looking to improve an existing pasture can renovate the old pasture. This can be a complete or partial renovation. Partial renovation can be as simple an over-seeding pasture grasses or legumes into the existing pasture. Complete renovations will have the existing pasture plants destroyed chemically with herbicides or mechanically with equipment prior to seeding.
33 Pasture Seeding Considerations Complete vs partial renovation*slope of field (erosion potential)*existing weed population*existing forage base*conventional or no till seedingSpring vs Fall seeding*spring seeding can be challenging with weed competition, early heatThe decision between a partial or complete renovation will depend on the following situations being present in the old pasture. What is the slope and erosion potential in the field? If the slope is too great, the rules out using soil disturbing equipment. Only no till methods of seeding would apply, which includes partial renovation with over-seeding or herbicide burn-down of existing pasture for a complete renovation. The existing weed population can be used as a guide for determining renovation. A heavy population of perennial broadleaf weeds makes it extremely difficult to manage a quality pasture. It is best to do whatever it takes to clean these types of weeds out of the old pasture before re-establishing the new pasture. If the pasture only has annual weeds, these can be easily cleaned up before seeding. If a pasture has a good forage base, typically a good grass base, it is foolish to kill it out to re-seed. It makes more sense to improve the existing pasture by over-seeding a legume or another grass species. The choice between conventional (tillage equipment) and no till methods of renovating pastures has everything to do with the field conditions and the producer’s philosophy.
34 No Till SeedingChemically destroys existing vegetation - Roundup, Gramoxone (Paraquat)These herbicides will not contaminate the soil, so seeding can be done immediately.No till protects against soil erosion.“Poor Man’s No Till” or “Frost Seeding” - in late winter, graze down field, over seed field (animals and weather will work in seed), keep down vegetation until new plants can compete.No till establishment, as it states, does not disturb the soil. Herbicides, such as Gramoxone and Roundup are used to burn down existing plants instead of plowing or disking them up. These herbicides do not contaminate the soil, so seeding can be done immediately. No till protects the soil from erosion. An alternative to traditional no till seeding is frost seeding, or poor man’s no till. This low cost seeding can be effective. The pasture is over seeded in late winter after the field has been heavily grazed. Animals are left on the pasture to help walk in the seeds. The animals are removed when the new seedlings begin to emerge in the spring.
35 Conventional SeedingMechanically disturbs soil and destroys existing plants (plow, disk).Usually requires complete renovation.Can be done without chemicals.Requires a lot of field work and trips over the field.Will bring up rocks.Soil erosion is a concern.Usually creates an excellent seedbed.Conventional seeding represents the more traditional establishment methods of plowing/disking, which significantly disturbs the soil. Conventional renovations typically require a complete renovation. The advantage here is that the renovation can be accomplished without chemical herbicides. It does require a lot of trips over the field with equipment and can bring up rocks. Soil erosion is the major concern with this practice. Quick germinating nurse crops like ryegrass can be added to minimize the erosion. Conventional soil preparation typically creates the best seedbed.
36 Pastures add to the pastoral beauty of farmland Pastures add to the pastoral beauty of farmland. They also help to protect the land by holding the soil in place.This slide reminds the audience that pastures contribute significantly to the pastoral beauty of the region.
37 Pasture Seeding Considerations Can animals be removed during the renovation process and forage establishment period?*often the overgrazing of new seedlings results in the subsequent loss of the new pasture.*new seedlings need time to develop a good root system and store energy for regrowth.There are several important questions that producers should answer before seeding their pasture. Can the animals be removed during the renovation process and forage establishment period? Often the over-grazing of new seedlings results in the subsequent loss of the new pasture. New seedlings need time to develop a good root system and store energy for re-growth.
38 Pasture Seeding Considerations What is the purpose of your pasture?Hay or play?Will the pasture be expected to supply a significant portion of the feed ration?What are your forage management skills?These are questions that need to be addressed when selecting forage species to be seeded in your pasture.These are more questions that producers need to answer before seeding a pasture. What is the purpose of the pasture? Is it to be used only for pasture, or will hay production be an important part of its use? Will the pasture be expected to supply a significant portion of the feed ration? Whether the pasture is to be used mostly as an exercise area, or a primary feed source impacts on the selection of forage species used in the pasture. What are the producer’s forage management skills? Some forage species require much more management than other species. If the producer is not up to the management requirements of the high end forages, than he/she should select a forage that is easier to manage.
39 Walking Your Fields Look at Your Soil Previously row cropped fields *If the previous crop was corn, soybeans, or another crop that may have had herbicides applied, investigate. What was used?*If you can’t, be cautious. Carryover herbicides can be a problem consider planting a non-sensitive crop -care should be taken with liming the field (lime can release chemicals attached to soil particles)Before setting up your pasture system, it is a good idea to take a walk around your farm and look at your resources.Previously row cropped fields: If the previous crop was corn, soybeans, or another crop that may have had herbicides applied, investigate. Find out what was used. If you can’t, be cautious. Carryover herbicides can be a problem with establishing a new pasture. You may consider using a non-sensitive crop in the interim. Care should be taken when liming the field in these types of situations. Liming materials can release herbicides tied up in the soil. This release allows them to be active again. This can cause significant damage to new seedings. Lime several months before or after seeding in these situations.
40 Walking Your Field Look at Your Soil Drainage *poorly drained soils limit what you can grow*soils that stay wet during peak times of the year will hamper pasture rotation*consider these fields for hay or strip grazingDrainage: Poorly drained soils limit what you can grow on the farm. Soils that stay wet during peak times of the year ill hamper pasture utilization and renovation. These types of fields should be considered primarily for hay production and strip grazing.
41 Walking Your Fields Look at Your Soil Stony *unless you like picking up rocks, consider no till establishment/renovation in these types of fieldsFertility*unless money is not a problem, consider forages with low fertility requirements and gradually add fertilizer inputs to build up your poor soil so that it can support better foragesStony: Determine if your soil is stony. Unless you like picking up rocks, no till establishment practices will be your best option if the soil is stony.Fertility: Use soil testing to determine the fertility level of your soils. Unless money is no problem, you may want to start with some pasture/forage species with low fertility requirements if your soil needs a lot of nutrients. This will permit you to slowly build up your soil fertility and spread out the costs.
42 Walking Your Fields Look at Field Location Wooded *beware of grazing in, or around wooded areas. Some poisonous plants can be found in these areas.Potential Winter Pasture *fields that have natural northern wind shelter (trees, hills), or are adjacent to a barn are good.* winter pastures need to be visibleWooded: Beware of grazing animals in, or around wooded areas. There are some species of poisonous plants that can be found in these areas. Producers who plan to graze animals in these types of areas should be familiar with the plant species in the wooded pasture.Potential Winter Pasture: Producers who plan to keep animals through the winter should be on the lookout for potential winter pasture areas. Fields that have natural northern wind shelter (trees, hills), or are adjacent to the barn are good. These areas provide shelter from the winter winds. Winter pastures should be visible from the homestead. Cattle rustling is still a problem in this area.
43 Walking Your Fields Look at Field Location Slope * consider soil erosion potential if you need to renovate the field* the use of no till, forage selection (fast germinating species), or a nurse crop can minimize soil loss* will the slope limit the use of field equipment?Slope: If the fields on the farm have steep slopes, their erosion potential has to be considered when planning renovation. Best management practices like no till, or using a nurse crop should be considered. Will the steepness of the slope restrict the use of field equipment? This is farm safety as well as a farm management question.
44 Walking Your Field Look at Existing Vegetation Forage base *unless money is not a problem, try to work within the existing forage base *if it has been there awhile, it is adapted to your site *over seeding can improve on the existing forage base.Forage Base: Unless money is not a problem, try to utilize the existing forage base as you begin to develop your pastures. The existing forage base will usually be a mixture of native and cultivated grasses. These include kentucky bluegrass, orchardgrass, tall fescue, ryegrass, and assorted annual grasses. These grasses are perfectly okay as a pasture base. Some clover can be frost seeded into this pasture to improve it if you desire.
45 Walking Your Field Look at Existing Vegetation Reclaiming a field *if a field is wild, or grown up in weeds, regular mowing will do wonders to reclaim an area.*spot treatment for perennial weeds may be needed.*if the field is still too trashy after mowing, reseed it. Natural regeneration is very slow and inefficient in this region.Reclaiming a field: If a field has been allowed to grow up wild, or into weeds, mowing this field on a regular basis will do wonders to restoring the original pasture. Tough perennial weeds can be spot treated with a herbicide to kill them. If the field is too trashy, a complete renovation could be necessary. Natural regeneration is a very slow process in this region.
46 Walking Your Fields Look at the Fences Existing fences *unless the existing fence is too decayed or simply cannot be worked into your plan, use it.*in some cases you will need to clean out trees, bushes, and weeds from around old fences*do not forget about gates; they need to be wide enough for equipment to passExisting Fences: Unless the existing fence is too decayed, or simply cannot be worked into your plan, use it. This will save you a lot of money. In some cases you may need to clean out trees, brush, and weeds from around the old fences. Pay close attention to the gates. Gates will need to be wide enough for field equipment to pass through.