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What To Plant In Pasture  RSS feed

 
Posts: 724
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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Brandon Greer wrote:

And my neighbor pretty much recommended the same as she did. That's why I feel like this site is my only hope at doing it right because the locals evidently cannot help me. But it's also difficult to know what parts of the conventional methods and the permaculture methods do in fact overlap. For example, would you plow the ground before planting the prairie plants? The locals so far are recommending I do but what is the permie take on it?



i took all the local knowledge of grasses and added in a bunch of other plants (legumes, tap rooted plants etc) based on suggestions on permies.
i bought all the seed and mixed the seeds myself. i only employ neighbors to plant and furrow the pasture.

i advised them that i will provide the seed and will vacuum the seeder out before they leave, as to not "contaminate" any other fields will my weeds/plants

hope this helps.
 
Posts: 127
Location: Boyd, Texas
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I am guessing from your location you are up around Commerce or Paris. I am not as familiar with that area as that from Denton West, but you are still far from Humid Subtropics. Maybe not Semi Arid, but close. I am guessing about 38-40 inch rainfall or so. We have about 34 inches here on a good year an hour northwest of Dallas.

The reasoning for Bermuda grasses is that they perform well in North Texas and produce a lot of forage and hay. It also is one of the more persistent perennials in our three to four months of 100F+ summer. Lots of stuff doesn't make it because of the heat, especially clovers and alfalfa. The problem is that they put you on the nitrogen train. Bermuda really needs 300 pounds of nitrogen an acre to perform and more is better. This is very hard to do without chemicals, even winter seeding clovers only does about 100-150 pounds of N. You can run broiler pens over the fields and dump the 300 pounds/acre in one pass, but broilers really don't get much from Bermuda grass except in the early spring when it still has clover and ryegrass from the winter overseeding.

You can look at doing something like B Dhal Bluestem which produces almost as well as Bermuda but with much lower nitrogen requirements. You can get by with 50 to 100 pounds of nitrogen an acre and be within 250 to 500 pounds of total dry matter production. Other options are crabgrass and cereal rye rotations or greenleaf corn and forage soybeans or cowpeas.

About half of our pastures are Bermuda and half a mix of native and introduced forages. I am seeding 5-10 variety mixes in the fall and summer working to establish a mix of nitrogen fixers and biomass plants year round. It is hard especially since I am not real keen on breaking the fields up to establish the proper seedbed. Since you are doing such massive clearing already it will be easier. We are at the tail end of time to plant a few cool season things. I just put out a mix last week of ryegrass, turnips, radishes, three clovers, hairy vetch, and winter peas on a couple acres that was the pigs winter pasture. I may get a bit growing there an I may not. If not it will be there for next year.
 
pollinator
Posts: 665
Location: northwest Missouri, USA
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Is it a fair characterization definining swales as "nothing more than strips of depression."? I would likely define them a bit more detailed than that, but rather than my inexperienced description I'll let Geoff Lawton do some of his charismatic description of swales among other earthworks in this video: http://tv.naturalnews.com/v.asp?v=34DC9EE49DA528B7373F3ABC098D0456
Here's a good reference on keyline swales from Lawton, et.al.: http://permaculturenews.org/2009/11/30/keyline-swales-a-geoff-lawtondarren-doherty-hybrid/

Am I wrong thinking that swale size/depth (and density on a landscape) is a function of many things, including: soil type, annual precipitation, hardiness zone, desired plants/trees?

 
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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Dan Grubbs wrote:Is it a fair characterization definining swales as "nothing more than strips of depression."?



Strips of depression on contour.
 
Posts: 180
Location: Boise, Idaho (a balmy 7a)
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I am in Boise, similar to your Dalles area.

In addition to the volunteer grasses and 'weeds' in my flat pasture, this year I added Austrian Winter Pea, Buckwheat and Vernal Alfalfa.

I used a walk-behind-aerator to 'drill' and then broadcast the seed. So far, so good.

My topography is really a set of shallow depressions that are linked to take advantage of the infrequent flow when the snow melts in the spring and the ground is too saturated to absorb it all, otherwise, I have no problems in the whopping 18 inches of fall across the 1/3 acre site the rest of the year!

Forgot to add: Siberian Elms - goats love the elms even when full of bugs, and they grow, grow, grow!
 
Posts: 270
Location: 1 Hour Northeast Of Dallas
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Paul Ewing wrote:I am guessing from your location you are up around Commerce or Paris. I am not as familiar with that area as that from Denton West, but you are still far from Humid Subtropics. Maybe not Semi Arid, but close. I am guessing about 38-40 inch rainfall or so. We have about 34 inches here on a good year an hour northwest of Dallas.

The reasoning for Bermuda grasses is that they perform well in North Texas and produce a lot of forage and hay. It also is one of the more persistent perennials in our three to four months of 100F+ summer. Lots of stuff doesn't make it because of the heat, especially clovers and alfalfa. The problem is that they put you on the nitrogen train. Bermuda really needs 300 pounds of nitrogen an acre to perform and more is better. This is very hard to do without chemicals, even winter seeding clovers only does about 100-150 pounds of N. You can run broiler pens over the fields and dump the 300 pounds/acre in one pass, but broilers really don't get much from Bermuda grass except in the early spring when it still has clover and ryegrass from the winter overseeding.

You can look at doing something like B Dhal Bluestem which produces almost as well as Bermuda but with much lower nitrogen requirements. You can get by with 50 to 100 pounds of nitrogen an acre and be within 250 to 500 pounds of total dry matter production. Other options are crabgrass and cereal rye rotations or greenleaf corn and forage soybeans or cowpeas.

About half of our pastures are Bermuda and half a mix of native and introduced forages. I am seeding 5-10 variety mixes in the fall and summer working to establish a mix of nitrogen fixers and biomass plants year round. It is hard especially since I am not real keen on breaking the fields up to establish the proper seedbed. Since you are doing such massive clearing already it will be easier. We are at the tail end of time to plant a few cool season things. I just put out a mix last week of ryegrass, turnips, radishes, three clovers, hairy vetch, and winter peas on a couple acres that was the pigs winter pasture. I may get a bit growing there an I may not. If not it will be there for next year.



Hi Paul,

Yes, I'm about 10 minutes from Commerce. From what I read I get 44 inches of rain a year.

Thanks for all the info. Can you please explain a bit what you mean by rotations with regard to crabgrass and cereal rye?

I'd also be interested in knowing what exact varieties you have chosen to put together in the mix you're planting. What three clovers have you chosen? I assume you chose them based on their ability to withstand our heat?
 
Paul Ewing
Posts: 127
Location: Boyd, Texas
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Brandon Greer wrote: Yes, I'm about 10 minutes from Commerce. From what I read I get 44 inches of rain a year.



Wow seems like almost a rainforest. This looks like it will be another dry year. For the second day in a row the little spot thunderstorms just missed us. It doesn't matter how great your earthworks or pasture cover is, if the rain doesn't fall you can't maximize it. We are about five inches below normal for the fist three months of the year so far with only 3.1" of precipitation. I was at a pasture management meeting yesterday and the climatologists at A&M are saying we are in the middle of a 22 year dry cycle that isn't expected to end till 2020 or so. This jives with what the Noble Foundation people in OK are saying as well. We are looking at a 1950s type long drought for the lower Midwest. Basically occasional years of close to "normal" rainfall and lots of dry years. I have to keep this in the back of my head when planning since I will need to either make plans to irrigate trees during the establishment years or plat lots and hope some survive. I am also not doing any major pasture reworking. I am doing some light disking, broadcasting seed mixes, and then packing it with a roller.

Brandon Greer wrote:Thanks for all the info. Can you please explain a bit what you mean by rotations with regard to crabgrass and cereal rye?



This is a semi heavy metal approach since it relies on two annuals. You are basically growing cereal rye (Ebon is a good grazing rye) during the winter and crabgrass during the summer. It should be a pretty good combination where you are. The approach is to plant the crabgrass in late April till late May. Rule of thumb is when the oaks start to leaf out (non-live oak varieties) though it can go in till June I have heard if you are late. You can rotational graze or hay the crabgrass. Hold off in late summer and let it regrow and set seeds. Then in September you would no-till drill your cereal rye (not ryegrass) into the field. You can rotationally graze the cereal rye over winter. The rye will winter kill or peter out in the spring about this time especially if you hit it with a hard rotation of grazing down low. Then do a very light disking (1" or less. I just ride the disc on the top of the ground) to be sure the crabgrass seeds have good soil contact. Some people disc in the fall right after seed drop when they plant the rye.

Doing this means you don't have to plant the crabgrass every year even though it is an annual. You can get sort of the same using ryegrass instead of cereal rye, but ryegrass lasts a lot longer in the Spring (up to mid June sometimes) and unless you graze it hard or hay it will shade out the crabgrass and seriously impact your summer forage production. I would go with either Red River or Quick-N-Big from Elstel Farms. They are the people that have done the most to select for good forage varieties. They have a lot of information on their website in the Fact Sheets section http://www.redrivercrabgrass.com/factsheets.html


Brandon Greer wrote:I'd also be interested in knowing what exact varieties you have chosen to put together in the mix you're planting. What three clovers have you chosen? I assume you chose them based on their ability to withstand our heat?



Last Fall I went with Blackhawk Arrowleaf Clover, Yuchi Arrowleaf Clover, and generic Crimson Clover. I also mixed Hairy Vetch, Austrian Winter Peas, Daikon radish, purple top turnips, forage rapeseed, Gulf Ryegrass(diloid variety), Marshall Ryegrass (tetraploid variety), and Jumbo Ryegrass (tetraploid variety). The tetraploid ryegrasses produce moe forage than the older diloid varieties like Gulf, but they are usually $10 a 50 lb bag more.

Where you are, you might want to add Ladino clover and Lespedeza clover and maybe try Durana White clover for Summer grazing. One key on clover is to have the proper soil PH. If it is off too much you won't get anything.
 
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Get in touch with your Game and Fish Commission, they usually have a person or access to a person that will help you set up "game forage" areas and have a list of seed suppliers. You are most likely to get the natural, localized, grass land seeds that way. Look for some tall stemmed grasses such as rye (grain type) wild wheat, triticale, grain sorghum etc. I have my feed plots (both goat ones and wild game ones) planted with mixtures of these and red, crimson and white clovers. I have left out alfalfa for now since it could be a problem if to much is eaten by my goats while they are in the pasture. In setting up my farm, I am working to have as many natural grassland plants as possible.
 
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