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Pasture Management

October 23, 2013 - GrowOrganic
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Tricia introduces us to the basic concepts of pasture management in our new video, and she runs through the strategies and benefits of MIRG (managed intensive rotational grazing). MIRG calls for moving livestock once they have grazed pasture down to three inches, and taking them to a new area that has six to eight inches of pasture. Let’s look at eight of those benefits more closely and find out how well-managed pasture land dovetails with living sustainably on the Earth. The combination of…
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Two great tools for understanding your soil—from the USDA and Peaceful Valley The combination of the USDA Web Soil Survey and soil tests from Peaceful Valley give you extensive information about your soil. Plan your land use and soil amendments based on this data and you’ll have productive land. How to use the USDA Web Soil Survey The Web Soil Survey is a gold mine of information, but you do need to swing your pickaxe to find all the good stuff. Put on your mining helmet and follow these…
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Video Transcript
Hi I'm Tricia an organic gardener I grow organically for a healthy and safe food supply for a clean and sustainable environment for an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Did you know that pastures can be good for the environment today we're going to talk about a pasture management system called managed intensive rotational grazing.

This means you get more forage you can graze earlier in the spring and you can graze later in the fall. The benefits of this system include soil and plant health which equals lower feed costs for your animals better water retention better water filtration co2 sequestration and topsoil creation those are all your "ations"! The first step is to walk your pasture and take note of its condition. Pay attention to what species of grass and legumes like clover are populating your pasture. Do they show a balanced growth or is there one species outgrowing the rest. Pay attention to the pastures location drainage and soil type check out our blog for a link to the USDA's web soil survey which provides detailed soil information. Pay attention to how your animals are grazing the pasture are they overgrazing one area and under grazing another part. The key concept to managed intensive rotational grazing is to divide the big pasture up into smaller pastures typically about eight or more and this allows the grasses to regrow at the optimal time. This pasture management system allows you to mimic the natural behavior of herd animals in the wild the herds stay together mow down the grass and then move on to richer pasture. Your pastures can be divided with either permanent fencing or temporary fencing. Electric portable fencing is a great low cost way to divide your pastors temporarily. Be sure and set aside an area in your pasture that we call the sacrifice area it's an area that you'll hold your livestock when otherwise you'd let them out into the pasture and they could damage the pastures such as in wet weather. There are several layouts that work well with this managed intensive rotational grazing some examples or layouts are a central sacrifice area where there's water and then gates out to different segments another popular layout is a long rectangle with a central lane and shared water troughs the important part is that each of the grazing areas have access to water. When it comes to actually using your pasture it's important to wait till the average height of grass is six to eight inches before allowing the animals in at six to eight inches the grasses started storing carbohydrates and its slow down its growing its young and tender enough to be palatable and it has stored enough energy to re-grow. Take measurements in several different areas within the pasture and then average these measurements together and don't measure the grass by straightening it up make sure and measure as it's laying down. It can be beneficial if you have multiple types of animals such as cattle horses and sheep to succession graze them these animals eat different things and do not suffer from the same types of parasites. Succession grazing can help you make sure the pastures grazed evenly and help spread the manure of the other species around to fertilize the pasture. Allow the animals to graze until the grass gets grazed down to about three inches this leaves enough of the grass so it can easily photosynthesize and re-grow. It's important to rotate the animals based on the condition of the pasture and not by the calendar. After rotating your animals out of a pasture notice whether they've grazed down evenly or not if not you may want to mow or weadeat to about five inches this encourages grass and legume growth that's more palatable and prevents the forage from spending its energy on forming seed heads. Harrowing or dragging is a routine task that should be done to help spread the manure and this should be done in dry weather and it will help prevent the spread of pests and disease. In dry weather any parasite eggs in the manure are dried up and exposed to the Sun in wet weather harrowing can spread diseases and parasites instead of controlling them. Periodically you should do a soil test. It's likely that if your manure is being incorporated into the soil things are okay but you never know if you might need a little bit extra help. If you have issues in your pasture such as weeds check out our pasture trouble shooting video. A well-managed pasture is an asset to the environment so manage your pasture and grow organic for life!

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Categories: Bulk Seeds, Grass Seed, Perennial Grass Seed, Pasture Seed, Dryland Pasture Mixes, Irrigated Pasture Mixes


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