How-To: Pasture Renovation
As you evaluate your pastures this spring, you may have discovered that some of them call for a renovation of some sort. What are your options for sprucing them up?
To add to a pasture while keeping what you have already, using a drill to interseed is one of the most effective methods. This can be done in many situations except where you have a dense stand of a sod-forming grass or species that you do not want (we will get to that in the next point). This method is a great solution for highly erodible areas that should not be worked up for a new seeding.
Using a good no-till drill to create a strip of loosened soil for the new seedlings to get started in is critical to a successful establishment. We also recommend focusing on a consistent seeding depth of ¼” to ½” and making sure the soil is firmed behind the seeding. The method of grazing the existing stand tightly then drilling then grazing lightly again can be effective in allowing light to reach the new seedlings.
In situations where interseeding just won’t cut it, a total renovation may be necessary in less erodible areas. For a stand to “qualify” for this, it could be composed of all undesirable/low-productivity species or it could be a dense sod that you would not be able to get a drill through. We would recommend grabbing your tillage tool of choice (just this one time) and reset the stand with a whole new seeding of desirable species.
Please do not try frost seeding still this year! In most places, this window has passed... This could be a though for next year if you are looking to increase diversity in your pasture stands. This method is not recommended for grasses, but many legumes can frost seed well in proper conditions. The way frost seeding works is using the freeze-thaw cycle of the soil to pull seed down in. This has to be done in the window of time where the days are warm (at least 40 degrees) and the nights still get below freezing. Also, there must be bare soil for the seed to come in contact with and get pulled in.
Keep in mind the goal of your pasture when making these decisions and give us a call for ideas of what your pasture might need!