Three great tips to ensure your pasture grows back strong and fast in the spring. Check out the post and video for all the details
As winter is fast approaching, there are a few things you can do to ensure your pasture grows back at it’s best in the spring.
The first thing you can do is treat for weeds, if necessary.
There are very strict guidelines for using herbicides so be sure you read the labels carefully. Often, you are allowed two applications per year. For my area (the intermountain west) we recommend an application sometime between April and May and then if you need a second one, sometime between the middle of August and the middle of September. Treating for weeds allows your grass to get a head start in the spring because it eliminates the competition. Managing weeds is also really important if you want to maintain the correct ecosystem of your land. If your property is full of weeds, you are spreading weed seeds everywhere and chances are pretty good you have an invasive species. If you give away manure or spread it, you are spreading weed seeds. Manage your weeds!!
The second thing you can do is fertilize.
The way you will know what type of fertilizer you need is by doing a soil test. To performa a soil test, you will need to sample the soil in a “M” pattern across your pasture. This ensures you are getting a uniform sample. An appropriate soil sample is taken with a soil probe, but you can dig a hole that is about 12 inches deep and cut a vertical “slice” of the soil to have the same effect. If you contact your county extension office, they should know where you can send it to get analyzed. You can also just find a lab online and ship it. Where I live, usually the only fertilizer that is necessary is nitrogen. This is convenient if you have chickens because they basically poop nitrogen! You can also buy pure nitrogen fertilizer form your local farm store. The timing for your fertilizer applications is the same as your weed applications. Just wait until the weeds are dead before you fertilize.
The best way to ensure you have good regrowth in the Spring is to make sure your pasture isn’t grazed too short.
Often this is going to mean removing your animals for a time to allow the grass to grow back a bit. Having an appropriate rotational grazing system will help this immensely. I’ll show some examples in my pasture.
Here, the grass is too short. This area will have a harder time regrowing in the spring. I had my chicken tractors here and a horse grazing for longer than I anticipated.
Here, the grass is just right. All grasses are different, but a good general rule of thumb is no shorter than 4-6 inches before winter. If your pasture looks like a lawn, you’re doing it wrong. A good pasture often looks messy with longer grass and tufts of grass here and there. Messy = good! Lawn = bad!
Here is a video for a better view of what I’m talking about.