Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Pasture update, the good, bad and ugly

Good: We had an inch of rain a couple of nights ago. Three forage legumes in this image, white clover, birdsfoot trefoil (yellow flowers) and a single red clover (pink blossom). Legumes fix nitrogen and are very nutritious forage.

Bad: One of the circles where the Captain had a bale feeder. It has mostly filled up with annual weeds like ragweed and smartweed. There are a few red clover seedlings in the mix.
The bad part is the pugging. The good part is that it is healing over.
This is what the same general area looked like June 29, 2019
The Ugly: I have rushes all over my pasture. Grazing animals don't eat rushes because the stems are as tough as music wire. Grazing animals rarely bite off forage. Rather, they grip it between their teeth and gums and rip the forage off. Rushes don't rip.
The best way to reduce rushes (genus Juncus) to a negligible level is to manage the sward.

Good drainage helps. This June was very wet and running cattle on wet pasture causes them to churn the soil into adobe brick...thereby making the drainage even worse.

In time, given enough organic matter pumped into the soil, worms and other soil critters will fluff the soil back up. I have a dream that I will run drainage tile through the area.

Managing the sward as a hay field for a couple of years messes up the rushes. The hay cutter does not care how hard the stems are and the taller grasses like orchard grass, tall fescue and brome grass shade out the shorter rushes.

If managed as pasture, it helps to mow the pasture after the animals are pulled off. That breaks the seed cycle and, hopefully, natural attrition will reduce the number of rush plants.


  1. It's always a 'dance'... Depends on which dance you want to do.

  2. Joe have you talked with the extension agent about whether a controlled burn of the pasture, timed correctly, would solve some of your problems? I've seen some spectacular improvements by doing this......


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