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Diversifying a fine fescue paddock  RSS feed

 
Annie Hope
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We have sandy paddocks that cattle have eaten down from over-grown grass to a lot of fine fescue grass. We want to make more diversified paddocks over the next year, and also want to ensure quality feed in the summer months (spring now in new zealand), and bring/build up soil fertility.

We are looking at one or more of the following options:

- Move the pig tractor across it, and hope they dig it up and then smooth it out and re-plant it with seed (there is also a good natural seed-bed).

- Graze it low, and then over plant it with white clover and orchard grass etc.

- For at least this season, plant through the fine fescue large legumes (broad beans and lupins) and deep rooting plants like lambs quarters, amaranth, sunflower etc, that will create nitrogen, and/or put down deep tap roots that will bring up nutrients in deeper layers of the soil and be more dry tolerant in summer that the shallow fescue mat roots.

Anybody had success or failure with any of these methods?

Any other advise?

 
alex Keenan
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Well if you have sandy soil do you want to increase soil organic levels to help hold moisture?
If so how about the whole family of tiller, gopher, and oilseed radishes?
 
Annie Hope
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Good minds think alike. On other areas of the farm we are clearing the soil for gardens, and food forests and fukuoka-bonfil clover/grain paddocks, and are starting by creating a cover crop from a mix that includes radishes the we will feed to the animals. We would like to try and maximise on nutrition for the animals in the paddock. I don't think radishes would fit this bill?
 
alex Keenan
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Well I just harvested a bunch of Giant Ragweed.
I cut the stalks with a small curved blade on a three foot handle.
I then stack the stalks on a tarp.
When I get a load I drag it the the chicken pen.
I lay the stalks out in the pen and the chickens eat the leaves and seeds.
I collect the seeds on the tarp and use it to grow new stands of Giant Ragweed.
Farmers hate it, birds love it high protein and fat in the seeds and the birds readily eat the leaves.
The stalks will decay over time but you can line the chicken yard with them so the pen is not a soggy mess in the winter.
 
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