Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Sustainable Living and Land use › Sustainable Farming › Reclaiming old pasture
- June 1, 2015 at 4:48 pm #85602BaystatetomParticipant
A neighbor just gave me use of 5 acres of pastureland just down the road from me. It has only been mowed a few times in a dozen years and is more golden rod and fern then grass. Anybody have any tips on how to reclaim it? My oxen are fussy eaters and wont touch most of what is there. I am thinking I’ll have to get after it with a rotary mower or weed blade on my weed whacker a couple times a year. But still hoped maybe somebody could offer some advice.
~TomJune 2, 2015 at 6:57 am #85603Ed ThayerParticipant
We use pigs to renovate our pastures, they are very aggressive when it comes to tilling the land, and they fertilize it for us as well. We rotate them using electric netting. When we move them, I simply chain harrow the piece they just cam off of and then spread pasture mix by hand and rake it in. This has worked very well for us.
EdJune 2, 2015 at 7:16 am #85605Crabapple FarmParticipant
Pulsed grazing/mowing is definitely the way to go. Our fields were all goldenrod and fern when we got here, and we were able to bring them back to grass and clover pretty quickly (a few years) through timely grazing combined with mowing. My cattle and sheep will eat Sensitive Fern when it isn’t too tough (that’s probably the fern you have, in these parts in a goldenrod field). Cattle will eat the leaves and tips off Goldenrod if they’re hungry, but not enough to kill it, so some amount of mowing is needed. Goldenrod recovers from mowing in the summer much more slowly than grass and clover. You can graze first, and mow off what they leave. I would probably put them on a small paddock and start rotating them. If you give them the whole 5 acres, they’ll be able to keep satisfied with picking out the good bits until they kill them off – by rotating you can give the grass and clover a chance to grow back and crowd out the goldenrod. If they are starting on one side, you can mow off the other right off, and let it grow back a bit before they get to it. At this point in the year, with this rain we just got, the grass is going to jump.
Rotating is a lot more work than just fencing in the perimeter, but it makes a huge difference quite quickly. In years when I’ve gotten lazy (i.e. focusing more on the vegetables) and moved the cattle more slowly in bigger blocks, the pastures have definitely been set back.June 2, 2015 at 8:14 am #85606Sue BrennanParticipant
Tom, My farm also had golden rod as far as the eye can see. Beautiful yellow wild flowers as my city neighbors would bass over. I brush hogged June 1st, July 1st, and August 1st before the flowers turned to seed. Again in October 1st. You would be surprise how quickly grass comes back. I had a friend that was willing to bale the golden rod taking the seed off the farm. I chose to brush hog since I had so many other projects to invest in on the farm. Also, adding lime would take the sour taste out. (Although I am not an expert on fertilizer)
SuzieJune 6, 2015 at 6:30 pm #85611Tim HarriganParticipant
Tom, I agree with what others have said, I had solid fields of goldenrod and when I mowed it the first time is could not see much else. But it is easily controlled by mowing so if you can get after it you will see a big reduction next year and so on. The field where it was worst is now my best pasture but it has been 15 years of managed rotational grazing. If you are in a hurry you could till it up, correct soil pH and fertility, etc and reseed in August and you will be grazing nice pasture next year at this time. I am sure your Extension folks can advise on fertility, timing, pasture mixes etc for your area. By the way, none of my steers would ever touch goldenrod, even in the spring when it was young. Now I have one of the best trefoil, clover grass pastures I have ever seen with no reseeding at all. But it took time.June 7, 2015 at 12:24 pm #85617BaystatetomParticipant
Thanks everybody. I started fencing today, I actually got 5 or six post in before I hit a rock! Down right amazing for these parts, it was even 2′ of thick dark soil before the next layer. I have lived within 1/4 mile of this field my whole life and have never seen it tilled but somebody must have at some point. I am planning a cross country road trip with my family in July so the rotational grazing will have to wait until next year. For now its getting 4 strands of barbed wire and in they go. It shouldn’t be hard though to use step in post and solar electric to divide it up in future years. It seams my little Normandy beef calf eats a lot of weeds. Glad to have noticed the poison ivy is gone from my other pasture. My big team wouldn’t touch the stuff.
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