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Pasture Maintenance

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NonTypicalCPA

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I'm curious what others are doing on an annual basis for maintaining their pasture soils. Soil test annually? N/P/K annually? Lime annually? My pastures are on their third year. I limed them heavily in the first year to build up the PH as I'm in pretty light soil. They've produced well, but I am thinking about pulling another soil sample and see how their holding up.
 

Caustic Burno

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NonTypicalCPA":2s4sgpzb said:
I'm curious what others are doing on an annual basis for maintaining their pasture soils. Soil test annually? N/P/K annually? Lime annually? My pastures are on their third year. I limed them heavily in the first year to build up the PH as I'm in pretty light soil. They've produced well, but I am thinking about pulling another soil sample and see how their holding up.


I test yearly PH is my biggest battle.
I am a grass farmer first.
 

Brute 23

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My first battle is weeds and brush so we spray annually. On soils that pack we will run a disk, subsoiler, or pasture renovator.

Soil samples are on the list to start doing but right now there is no extra money with the heavy brush spraying program. I figure I have two more years before I can back off to just annual maintenance spraying.
 

dun

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Soil test every other year and fertilize to the test
 

littletom

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Soil test and keep ph in check. Use soil test as baseline for p&K can't always afford to go right by it. Forty acres near shop get 80-100 acres worth of tobacco stalks each fall and winter. This fall I put n on 30 acres of fescue for stockpiled winter grazing. The next day it rained 7'' so that was likely a waste. I would guess they get sprayed with 24d every other year. Seems like we are drilling seed to often to me
 

Dave

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Before retiring I did fertility recommendations on hundreds of soil tests a year. I recommend testing every 3 years for pH, P and K once you have reached your desired levels.
On the other hand I have some rented pastures I do nothing on. i could spend money to double the production. Or I could spend less money to rent twice as much pasture.
 

Luckiamute

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I lime once every 3 to 4 years, depending on results of soil tests (PH) and finances. Usually apply 1 to 1.25 tons per acre. Also fertilize annually as early in the spring as ground moisture allows, applying nutrients based mostly on most recent soil test results. I do soil tests every 3 years. They are cheap and its valuable yet inexpensive information. Also do spot spraying or mass spraying for weeds, mostly thistles and wild carrot.
 

Banjo

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littletom":1l4nc0zs said:
Soil test and keep ph in check. Use soil test as baseline for p&K can't always afford to go right by it. Forty acres near shop get 80-100 acres worth of tobacco stalks each fall and winter. This fall I put n on 30 acres of fescue for stockpiled winter grazing. The next day it rained 7'' so that was likely a waste. I would guess they get sprayed with 24d every other year. Seems like we are drilling seed to often to me

Those tobacco stalks are some good stuff. I have an area that I put some on about 6 years ago....its still noticeably better than other pasture around it.
I would tie my stalks up in bundles and throw them outside in a big pile and after we were thru for the day....I would feed them into a woodchipper that I converted to run off a PTO....1000 rpm works best. It would blow the stalk chips into a big pile and every few days I would load it into a manure spreader and spread em.
BTW, I need to sell or trade that thing since I don't use it anymore, would make some body a good deal on it.
 

1982vett

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I haven't soil tested in some time now. Probably before 2010 or so.

Why? Cost vs reward from the info gained.....economics.

The information gain would be used to grow vegetation to be consumed by amimals or be cut for hay to be fed to animals with any surplus hay to be sold. Dang, the thought of all that work makes me tired.

I can look out over my pastures that I used to manage heavily for hay purposes and pastures I tried to keep just one more animal on. What was the payout on that.....for the work involved....?

Well, I carried 30% more cows. Baled 110 to 140 acres of hay. Spent a lot of time on a tractor burning fuel and working on equipment. Spent time watching the weather looking for the right time to throw thousands of dollars worth of fertilizer out or find the perfect time to cut and bale the hay it was put on. Then came moving the hay to storage or making arrangements for someone to come get it....but couldn't come because the were going on vacation.

Think about the end game a bit. Are you better off doing all these things? Is what you end up getting paid to do these things actually worth the time, extra work, and monetary risk?

Let's take some east round numbers.

Say your able to run 100 cows under this senecio. Consensus seems to be $450 to $500 yearly carrying cost per cow. Average that to $47500. Let's even give you 100 525 lb calves to sell today and your going to get $1.50 a pound commission free.....$78750.00........ yea! I made $31000......oops. I forgot about the 100 rolls of hay sold at $10 over cost. Or a lot less......$32000...... whoop

But what if you could carry 70 cows and forget about the hay. Never mind, I don't need 18 tons of fertilizer. Major equipment problem is the batteries in the tractors because it hasn't been cranked in a month. Instead of using 900 gallons of tractor fuel a year you can get by on less than 300.

55,125 - 32,250 = 21,875. But your work load went from about 1560 hours to about 520 or less.

Think about that for a bit....
 

Brute 23

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1982vett":12ndqd5k said:
I haven't soil tested in some time now. Probably before 2010 or so.

Why? Cost vs reward from the info gained.....economics.

The information gain would be used to grow vegetation to be consumed by amimals or be cut for hay to be fed to animals with any surplus hay to be sold. Dang, the thought of all that work makes me tired.

I can look out over my pastures that I used to manage heavily for hay purposes and pastures I tried to keep just one more animal on. What was the payout on that.....for the work involved....?

Well, I carried 30% more cows. Baled 110 to 140 acres of hay. Spent a lot of time on a tractor burning fuel and working on equipment. Spent time watching the weather looking for the right time to throw thousands of dollars worth of fertilizer out or find the perfect time to cut and bale the hay it was put on. Then came moving the hay to storage or making arrangements for someone to come get it....but couldn't come because the were going on vacation.

Think about the end game a bit. Are you better off doing all these things? Is what you end up getting paid to do these things actually worth the time, extra work, and monetary risk?

Let's take some east round numbers.

Say your able to run 100 cows under this senecio. Consensus seems to be $450 to $500 yearly carrying cost per cow. Average that to $47500. Let's even give you 100 525 lb calves to sell today and your going to get $1.50 a pound commission free.....$78750.00........ yea! I made $31000......oops. I forgot about the 100 rolls of hay sold at $10 over cost. Or a lot less......$32000...... whoop

But what if you could carry 70 cows and forget about the hay. Never mind, I don't need 18 tons of fertilizer. Major equipment problem is the batteries in the tractors because it hasn't been cranked in a month. Instead of using 900 gallons of tractor fuel a year you can get by on less than 300.

55,125 - 32,250 = 21,875. But your work load went from about 1560 hours to about 520 or less.

Think about that for a bit....

That has been my hesitation with it. Carrying those "extra cows" only works when you have the rain.

There are certain pastures I would like to have an idea on like hay fields, but to do the whole property doesn't seem feasbale to me.

In my short time doing this I believe the most money made is by keeping your herd numbers in check and trying to keep you costs as low as possible with out compromising quality. Every time the tractor cranks or you run a piece of equipment it equals lost dollars and a huge risk from a breakdown.

I run the math on every thing. It can be the best practice "by the book" but if I can't make the math work out it's not going to happen. Time and risk are both part of the equation also.
 

1982vett

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I'll say, I've been "preaching" the less is more philosophy on and off for a while now. I know I've cut my workload substantially. But some thinks don't make sense, like bothering to make a businesses out of hay clearing 5 - 10 dollars a roll. Especially if your only selling 100 or so a year. My opinion is to let it rot back into the soil for the soil to use it's nutrients next year. Saves me a lot of time, work and frustration.
 

farmerjan

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We soil test the pastures as well as the hay fields. Put some poultry litter on the pastures, do some spot spraying and have done some overall spraying on pastures that are covered with thistles and sand briars, also bushhog everything once a year according to agreements with landowners. We make a fair amount of hay on land that isn't fenced or no water available, and we roll out alot of hay to benefit the soil and increase the organic matter. The only ones we do any lime on are the ones we have at least a 5 year lease on. We rotate the cows around for grazing, so get some more benefits that way as the regrowth and rest periods have given us a chance to actually increase carrying capacity on most places.
1982vett is right about the difference in time and money spent on fuel equipment etc., as opposed to fewer animals and less actual output of time. We sell alot of small square bales and the money from them is more than justified over the cost. But for the big round bales we can buy them as cheap or cheaper than we can make them....MOST YEARS....but come a drought, we are very thankful to have them. We actually buy a fair amount of hay that is 2 yrs old that we get for next to nothing and use it to feed and put out and let it feed the soil back through it just rotting into the ground. Most is closeby, little cost to haul and we find that the pastures actually seem to benefit from that as much as anything.
 

Stocker Steve

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NonTypicalCPA":1b7mxcz0 said:
I'm curious what others are doing on an annual basis for maintaining their pasture soils.

Cows, plants, and plants eaten by cows feed the soil economically.
Chemical inputs "work" but they don't usually pencil out for beef cows. Stockers and dairy are somewhat different.
Most beef producers need to increase the rest period, the stocking density, and the forage residual to make a big improvement in their soils and their stands.
 

True Grit Farms

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The best pasture management tool is having someone else buy you seed and fertilizer. I have some hunters coming up for 4 days on November 1st. and their fees will pay for all the seed and fertilizer for the whole year on all my pastures and hay fields. There's a lot of different ways to keep your overhead down, and make money in the cow business.
I don't know anyone that doesn't feed hay in the winter around here.
 

1982vett

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True Grit Farms":2ey0r4tl said:
The best pasture management tool is having someone else buy you seed and fertilizer. I have some hunters coming up for 4 days on November 1st. and their fees will pay for all the seed and fertilizer for the whole year on all my pastures and hay fields. There's a lot of different ways to keep your overhead down, and make money in the cow business.
I don't know anyone that doesn't feed hay in the winter around here.
If you had an oil well which produced enough where your share was a barrel a day ... that would be pretty good too..... :D

I haven't gotten away with not feeding hay in the winter but I have reduced dependency on hay whole lot.
 

True Grit Farms

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1982vett":20gn6yn4 said:
True Grit Farms":20gn6yn4 said:
The best pasture management tool is having someone else buy you seed and fertilizer. I have some hunters coming up for 4 days on November 1st. and their fees will pay for all the seed and fertilizer for the whole year on all my pastures and hay fields. There's a lot of different ways to keep your overhead down, and make money in the cow business.
I don't know anyone that doesn't feed hay in the winter around here.
If you had an oil well which produced enough where your share was a barrel a day ... that would be pretty good too..... :D

I haven't gotten away with not feeding hay in the winter but I have reduced dependency on hay whole lot.

No oil wells here yet, but while I'm wishing.... If it would rain about a 1" a week 52 times a year I could double my stocking rate.
 

Highpoint

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Well a real newby here but trying out a different approach. Spot sprayed for brush then in May we began spraying fulvic with microbes. The microbes were provided with product and we grew them in 5 gallons of water with brown sugar for a week. After first spray there was a big difference in height of new grass. We had good rain then short drought. They normally put 1 cow to 10 acres here and even though we had 8 cows and a bull on 60 acres we mowed tops so grass could get sun. We also used as test for flies because flies are horrible in this area. The cattle across the road had to be sprayed every three days where these could go seven to ten days. They used a different spray however. I used mineral oil cedar wood oil and fulvic. The goal is high brix level which does not go by fertilizer numbers. So we shall see.
 

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