Monday, April 19, 2010

Seeding Pastures

After I finally figured out how to get the no-till drill set and calibrated (at least I think I did) I was able to get going on actually getting seed into the ground. I drilled my mix (Pradel Meadow Fescue, Perennial Ryegrass, Orchard Grass, Italian Rye Grass, and Alice White Clover) Saturday afternoon and evening and did about 5 acres. It was nice to see the visible progress of slowing cover more ground and getting a start on adding some cool season grasses to the pasture. It also gave me plenty of time to observe and think as I was bumping along on the tractor. Here are some of my observations:

  • There is clover coming up in quite a few places. In fact it is the only thing that is growing on the clay that covers our septic filtration area.
  • There really was a lot of bare ground in the pasture. In some places the switchgrass stand had just become very thin and in other places the brush had gotten so think that it shaded out all the grass. That was especially true in the area where I mowed down the brush yesterday.
  • The lack of quality grass and the bare ground was kind of depressing at times.
  • I have no idea what I'm doing! Yesterday while I was taking a break from the tractor I tweeted, "Ever feel like you're doing something, but not sure if you're doing it right? I do ..." I knew that seed was leaving the drill, but if it will ever grow ... of that I'm not sure!
  • Warm season grasses are just that ... warm season. As I look at my pasture I don't see the lush green that surrounds the farms around me ... oh for some lush and thick grass. It will come in time.
  • I'm excited about the possibilities of mob grazing ... if ever there was a farm that could use some good microbe management this is it!
  • Now ... I'm praying for grass to grow!


Teresa said...

You'd think it would be easy to get good pasture, but it is definitely work. My pasture started as mostly thistle and multiflora rosebush. The goats have truly been great for getting rid of the brush and some thistles. The geese are great for getting rid of thistles, especially Canadian thistles. The hard part is getting a good growth before putting animals on it.

Rich said...

Have you taken any photos to serve as a baseline to let you compare pasture conditions in the future?

I have read suggestions to place something like a post (or posts) in the pasture and then take a series of photos each year with the post in the picture (a couple times per year, facing north, south, east, west, close to the ground, a shot into the distance, etc.).

It can be easy to forget what your pasture actually looked like when you started, making it hard to judge your progress, and photos might make it easier to see how you improve your pastures. I wish I had done something similar when I started.

Walter Jeffries said...

We can't till, drill or otherwise use equipment so we hand seed. We simply spread the seed. There are some tricks to getting this to work.

We seed just before rain storms. The rain splashes the soil covering the seeds and activating them.

We seed just before moving the larger livestock off of an area. The animals pack the seed into the soil and cover it lightly giving good soil contact.

We seed to the frost. Frost opens and closes the soil causing the seed to drop in.

We just finished doing 70 acres this way. It is wonderful seeing the clovers, alfalfa, grasses and other seedlings coming up. We lost snow early this year so we were able to get on this faster.


Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:

Ghenghisken said...

Hope you have some advice...I'm also new to farming and I am having a hard time getting weeds (goldenrod, milkweed and thistle mostly) under control in a 10-acre pasture on my farm. I have tried cutting it back with a bushhog, but that only fixes the problem for a month or so. How did you start tackling the problem?

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