An experiment

Beef Production

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An experiment

Jul 21, 2016 | 20:05 1 Trying a little experiment here on a piece of pasture that suffers from the typical problems of long term over grazing - poor productivity, no legume, shallow roots/sod bound.
Looked like this when I first bought it.
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We grazed/fed on it late winter into April this year and haven't touched it since - only the manure patches are over 6 inches tall.
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We broadcast 3/lbs acre of sweet clover seed onto the sod mixed in with some phosphate and got surprisingly good plant density considering how "tight" the sod was. Ample moisture no doubt helped. Plants are not that big yet so not sure how much root reserve they will make this fall.
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Seeing how well the yellow sweet clover did elsewhere on the place we are wondering if we can get even a fraction of this biomass next year. My thinking is we don't even need to eat much of the stuff to come out ahead. Just trampling it into the ground would add litter and help kickstart soil activity, it will have fixed a lot of nitrogen and the deep roots will have broken up the hard pan.
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Has anyone else tried this and if so how did it work? At around $10/acre for seed I'm thinking it could be a good cheap solution if it works. Reply With Quote
Jul 23, 2016 | 21:32 2 If you get lots of rain, it should work? It does not seem to work in my area though - too dry and the sod won't let anything grow. I just work it up after 8 years, smooth it out and put 200 pounds of 11-52 and reseed. I loose a few years of pasture use, but can silage the weeds first year, hay the next, and then begin to graze. End up doing better in the long run. Hopefully it works for you. Reply With Quote
Jul 24, 2016 | 09:36 3 GF - I bet it works great. Yellow clover seems to be a great reclaimer here. It can even be invasive on native if you are not careful. It does a great job patching up bare ground. I know we used to use more of it long ago and you have to be a bit careful precalving and with surgical procedures since it does contain a blood thinner. I suspect that chopping it takes care of most of that problem. Lots of biomass has to equal lots of roots below ground. Reply With Quote
Jul 24, 2016 | 14:10 4 nicolaas, Its the first thing I've been successful in establishing in a tight old sod but maybe the conditions we had this summer were just right for it.
Sean, its all the Norgold low coumarin variety so shouldn't have any bleeding issues. I really like what it does here but my only reservation is that it does too well - having to clear paths to cross-fence pasture like it was standing corn would be tiresome. Reply With Quote
Jul 1, 2017 | 10:28 5 An update on our experiment. We have a useful new tool in our toolbox for pasture renovation. Name:  lost.jpg
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120 yearlings/fall calving pairs in here somewhere!

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Biomass production in the second year with sweet clover is huge - I'd guess as much in this one crop as the field had grown in total over the previous decade with "conventional" grazing management.

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What impresses me most is the vigor/height of the grass plants (at right) in amongst the clover. Same plants that were producing next to nothing even last year.

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The residue we leave behind is the real goal. Laying down a mat of litter uniformly across the field that will feed the soil microbiology, hold water and stop the soil over heating.

Like anything it's not the complete solution. It offers a bale grazing type effect that we can apply across more acres more uniformly at less cost. Downsides are the need to plow paths through it to put cross-fences up rather like corn grazing. We are limited how many acres we can graze this time of year given how high the yields are. Won't always get a catch like this - we have 2 years out of 3 but with a very dry spring the germination was very poor on the patch we seeded this spring. Reply With Quote
Jul 1, 2017 | 16:04 6 Looks like lots of om and n made with little effort. Reply With Quote
Jul 4, 2017 | 10:55 7 Is that an electric tractor Grass farmer or a dirty diesel left idling and heating the planet. Reply With Quote
Jul 4, 2017 | 11:07 8 This is interesting Grassfarmer. Cutting hay now and I have 30 acres which are a little disappointing. The land is light and will blow if I work it up. I had a hard time getting anything to grow on it crop wise so I seeded it to grass and at least got it to turn green. It is mostly quackgrass now and some wheatgrass species. Instead of taking the disk to it and trying to start over, I was thinking of going over top with the airdrill and putting 10 lbs of alfalfa / acre and then harrowing it to get a little seed-soil contact after I roll up what is there. There is no alfalfa now, just some white clover that creeped in from where ever it comes from. Like Sean said, yellow clover will work but I dont silage and it never dries down enough to roll up so it is kind of a weed. There is lots of moisture here this year (got stuck twice cutting hay yesterday) so as long as I could get soil contact, it should germinate no? Or am I better to disc it up? Anyone try this? Reply With Quote
Jul 5, 2017 | 04:40 9 Wrong time of year to be seeding now to get something well established before winter. I'd wait until early next spring or just before freeze up to add some seed. Reply With Quote
Jul 5, 2017 | 07:39 10 Some around here establish pasture/hay about mid August.....get it established enough to handle winter, then take off next spring....also, have seeded late September, so ready to grow next spring.... Reply With Quote
Jul 5, 2017 | 14:49 11
Quote Originally Posted by perfecho View Post
Some around here establish pasture/hay about mid August.....get it established enough to handle winter, then take off next spring....also, have seeded late September, so ready to grow next spring....
I don't have any experience of seeding later in the year. I think with the legumes like alfalfa and sweet clover especially if you want them to build that strong tap root reserve for them to over winter they should be seeded earlier. When you say late September do you mean for it to lie ungerminated over winter? September seems awful early for that - first week of November would be safer. When we get into these alternate seeding systems we have to be careful - sweet clover seed for example is usually scarified when you buy it so might rot if it sits wet for a period before it germinates. It it wasn't for that risk I'd broadcast spread it in the fall and not bother harrowing it in as the snow/frost/thaw would work it in. Reply With Quote
Jul 5, 2017 | 17:21 12
Quote Originally Posted by grassfarmer View Post
I don't have any experience of seeding later in the year. I think with the legumes like alfalfa and sweet clover especially if you want them to build that strong tap root reserve for them to over winter they should be seeded earlier. When you say late September do you mean for it to lie ungerminated over winter? September seems awful early for that - first week of November would be safer. When we get into these alternate seeding systems we have to be careful - sweet clover seed for example is usually scarified when you buy it so might rot if it sits wet for a period before it germinates. It it wasn't for that risk I'd broadcast spread it in the fall and not bother harrowing it in as the snow/frost/thaw would work it in.
There's an experiment grass. Fall dormant seeding works if it don't rot in the meantime. Reply With Quote
Jul 5, 2017 | 22:52 13 Yes...the late Sept seeding was for dormancy and sprouting into spring.....I had done it later one year, but the ground got wet with snow and proved to be a problem with seeds sticking to brillion seeder....the part I did earlier, germinated nicely in spring. Know some commercial landscapers and vegetation people who really like seeding in August, but likely mostly grasses. I have maintained that one should leave for holidays early September because it is usually wet....... so would help with grasses. Timing is a bit crucial...either establish well or make sure doesn't germinate. I usually don't have my sheet together to establish in spring..and we have had some dry springs. Likely spring seeding would be best most years. Reply With Quote