Enhance skinny or over-grazed pastures this spring

The adverse impacts of drought, excessive nitrogen costs and different excessive costs related to pasture administration have left some pastures within the state in less-than-ideal situation.

Because the 2023 rising season approaches, Aaron Saeugling, area agronomist with Iowa State College Extension and Outreach, discusses essential concerns when enhancing skinny or over-grazed pastures. A recent article written by Saeugling for ISU Extension and Outreach’s Acreage Living Newsletter highlights these concerns and offers sources for pasture enchancment.


In keeping with Saeugling, pastures affected by thinning may be improved with frost-seeding or interseeding this spring. Whereas frost-seeding and interseeding could be a viable long-term resolution for some, it’s also essential to think about pasture situations resembling soil pH, herbicide use and soil fertility, since not all pastures will probably be able to be reseeded with out soil amendments. As Saeugling explains, taking the time to correctly plan and put together will assist to extend the success of those practices.

As a further profit given excessive nitrogen costs, frost-seeding or interseeding with a legume may also help to reduce the quantity of nitrogen that must be utilized to the pasture, since many legumes are able to fixing nitrogen into the soil.

“Nitrogen fixing legumes ought to embrace alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil, and clover species,” mentioned Saeugling. “Take into account with legumes in a pasture, a soil pH above six is finest and for alfalfa a soil pH of 6.9.”

Seed placement is one other key consideration when frost-seeding or interseeding pastures, in addition to seed dispersal technique. A drill is most well-liked for many legumes, because it offers good seed to soil contact. If broadcasting, seeding previous to a snow occasion may also help the seed follow the floor of the soil.

After frost-seeding or interseeding, you will need to monitor pasture inexperienced up and forestall aggressive grass species from rising greater than 4 inches, as this can lead to shading of legume seedlings. As soon as legume seedlings are established, grazing may be permitted.