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Food Plots Soil Building/Cattle Grazing/Pasture and Hay Field Renovation

eastTN270

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2005
Messages
849
Location
Greene
I've seen a lot of talk lately about planting multi-species crops for soil building/health, wildlife, etc. I started farming a few years ago. I think my farm is the typical old east TN farmland. It has slate ground, hillsides, and has been overgrazed. Since I started, I've kept my cattle numbers lower than the land will support, started rotational grazing, and let several areas "rest". My pasture is "thin" in a lot of places, some areas have lots of weeds, areas of bare ground, and don't infiltrate water very well. I want to build better soil, increase grazing and hay production, and just be a better steward than trying to grow fescue.
I'm thinking of taking my worst field, its about 10 acres, fertilizing it based on soil test and drilling in a multi-species crop. Then in the fall, come back with a mixture of grasses for grazing. Does anyone have experience with this? Pros/Cons. Should I kill everything in the field first, before I plant, or just have the cattle graze it down and plant into the existing?
 

eastTN270

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2005
Messages
849
Location
Greene
Absolutely. I know Jessie well. They helped me with my watering system and interior fence. Great resources and I'll check back with them.
 

Popcorn

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2019
Messages
596
Location
Cookeville, TN Cadiz, KY and random other places
Often USDA help require following their prescribed plan which is fine and I would not want to suggest you vary from that.

I can tell you what I have done varies depending on the intended use of each particular parcel.

On pasture land where I was already grazing but grasses were poor quality and there were lots of weeds I took soil samples, adjusted ph and nutrients accordingly at the same time I added seed for the pasture I desired. In my case it is orchard grass and red clover, I also added rye to help hold bare and poor areas till the other grasses became established. Healthy grasses will out-compete most weeds and mowing the field a couple times a year before the weeds go to seed will help as well. every time I added fertilizer I did it in the fall so I could add seed at the same time then it would have till april to establish before I put calves on it. I now add rye and turnips to my pastures every fall to continue improving the soil, keep weeds at bay and add late season tender grazing. For my worst compacted ground I ran a pasture renovator over it last fall, makes the ground rough but well worth it for the water absorption and this springs explosion of grasses. Rotational grazing has its benefits for soil building but it is not conducive to the best conversion of grass to beef and can add to compaction in small paddocks.

When it comes to food plots its a multi specie blend in the summer which focuses on soil building but provides some food and cover. The last 2 years I have planted a blend of my own, this year we are moving to "summer release" by green cover seed. at the end of August I drill into the plots cereal rye, turnips, radishes and an annual clover (really like balansa clover). This blend provides soil protection, building as well as food / browse and good spring cover which also retards weed development and provides matter to insulate the ground, preserve moisture and add organic matter. This year the only herbicide I will use on over 80 acres of plots will be for spot spraying (I do use herbicides on my clover plots)

I have singled out 16 acres this year due to it being unbelievably erodible that will be planted in warm season grasses, natives and wild flowers. Gonna give this back to mother nature and just run a fire thru it every 3 years.

The summer release blend is balanced in species that perform well together while achieving their purposes of soil building, weed suppression, nutrient rich browse and multi critter cover all in one. Remember that matter below ground (roots) is important as is matter above ground.
 

DoubleRidge

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Messages
3,403
Location
Middle Tennessee
Often USDA help require following their prescribed plan which is fine and I would not want to suggest you vary from that.

I can tell you what I have done varies depending on the intended use of each particular parcel.

On pasture land where I was already grazing but grasses were poor quality and there were lots of weeds I took soil samples, adjusted ph and nutrients accordingly at the same time I added seed for the pasture I desired. In my case it is orchard grass and red clover, I also added rye to help hold bare and poor areas till the other grasses became established. Healthy grasses will out-compete most weeds and mowing the field a couple times a year before the weeds go to seed will help as well. every time I added fertilizer I did it in the fall so I could add seed at the same time then it would have till april to establish before I put calves on it. I now add rye and turnips to my pastures every fall to continue improving the soil, keep weeds at bay and add late season tender grazing. For my worst compacted ground I ran a pasture renovator over it last fall, makes the ground rough but well worth it for the water absorption and this springs explosion of grasses. Rotational grazing has its benefits for soil building but it is not conducive to the best conversion of grass to beef and can add to compaction in small paddocks.

When it comes to food plots its a multi specie blend in the summer which focuses on soil building but provides some food and cover. The last 2 years I have planted a blend of my own, this year we are moving to "summer release" by green cover seed. at the end of August I drill into the plots cereal rye, turnips, radishes and an annual clover (really like balansa clover). This blend provides soil protection, building as well as food / browse and good spring cover which also retards weed development and provides matter to insulate the ground, preserve moisture and add organic matter. This year the only herbicide I will use on over 80 acres of plots will be for spot spraying (I do use herbicides on my clover plots)

I have singled out 16 acres this year due to it being unbelievably erodible that will be planted in warm season grasses, natives and wild flowers. Gonna give this back to mother nature and just run a fire thru it every 3 years.

The summer release blend is balanced in species that perform well together while achieving their purposes of soil building, weed suppression, nutrient rich browse and multi critter cover all in one. Remember that matter below ground (roots) is important as is matter above ground.

Great explanation with specific details...thanks for sharing.
 

JCDEERMAN

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2008
Messages
12,372
Location
NASHVILLE, TN
When it comes to food plots its a multi specie blend in the summer which focuses on soil building but provides some food and cover. The last 2 years I have planted a blend of my own, this year we are moving to "summer release" by green cover seed. at the end of August I drill into the plots cereal rye, turnips, radishes and an annual clover (really like balansa clover). This blend provides soil protection, building as well as food / browse and good spring cover which also retards weed development and provides matter to insulate the ground, preserve moisture and add organic matter.
I love the concept and blends from Green Cover Seed from the way it looks. I just do not like the shipping costs. Almost $200 for what I need. Any way you know of to get around that? Other than going to Nebraska LOL? I thought about trying to go by there on our way back from Colorado elk hunting, but that would be about 3 weeks after we'd like to have everything in the ground.
 

Popcorn

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2019
Messages
596
Location
Cookeville, TN Cadiz, KY and random other places
I have had Kentucky-American seed in Hopkinsville, KY make a mix for me in the past. Varieties may change some as it must be in stock for small amounts. Tennessee Farmers Coop might be able to sell you what you want and you mix it. I think my order shipped from iola, Kansas that would put it in your drive!!

Sell a few bags to friends marked up a little to cover shipping costs!
 
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