• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies living kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • raven ranson
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Julia Winter
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Burra Maluca
  • Devaka Cooray
garden masters:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Shawn Klassen-Koop
gardeners:
  • Joseph Lofthouse
  • Bill Crim
  • Mike Jay

Anyone trying "pasture cropping"? Would it work for vegetables?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 1529
Location: Denver, CO
44
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Pasture cropping is an interesting technique under development in Australia. A pasture of various native grasses/ legumes, all of which go dormant at cool temperatures (C4 types), is planted and grazed during the Summer. In the Fall, as the grasses go dormant, a cool season grain such as oats or wheat (C3) is drilled straight into the pasture, grown, and harvested just as the grasses pick back up. This can also be done in reverse, with C3 cool season pastures and C4 warm weather crops.

I'd guess that various legumes and other broadleaf plants could be added to the pasture so long as they behaved in a similar way.

The advantages are numerous; two crops from the same space, rapid increases of soil organic matter, prevention of erosion, increase biodiversity and lowered inputs.

I wonder if this would work for vegetables?

Explanation of pasture cropping: http://www.pasturecropping.com/pasture-cropping/multi-species-pasture-cropping
 
gardener
Posts: 4974
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
588
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This works well for some vegetables like winter squashes, okra can be grown this way as well as other hot weather plants and then there are cool weather plants such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts and so on.
We have some pasture that grows a large mix that includes sweet potatoes and turnips, mustard and collard greens and many other vegetables, I think it depends more on what type of animals are you going to use on the pasture land over what will work.
It also matters if you are rotating animals through or if you are just putting them on a huge hunk of land. Each dictates what and when you can grow it.
I rotate grasses, grains and clovers in one alley way and hog pasture has a mix of around 25 different plants all growing together since I just broadcasted the seed to get the area going fast and strong.

The donkey pasture is very different from the hog pasture due to what they can eat without getting sick or fat. Cattle would be different than sheep or goats too.

Redhawk
 
pollinator
Posts: 1960
Location: Toronto, Ontario
146
bee forest garden fungi hugelkultur cooking rabbit trees urban wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Putting it in context, if you have block rows planted double comfortable reaching width, and then you have paths between that are growing a cover crop polyculture that is eventually grazed, even if it's with mesh row covers on to free range chickens on the paths, that's effectively pasture cropping.

In the broader sense, I could definitely see it working in a rotational sense in some settings, although I personally would want the above structure, but writ large, with the alleys between made permanently into paddocks. In that way, they would act as nutrient sponges, fungal habitat, soil life reactors, pollinator habitat, and finally grazing, probably several times annually by several species in turn, returning fertility to the beds beside as worms and other soil life redistribute resources.

It might not work in specific scenarios with unique constraints, but this is true of all permaculture tools.

-CK
 
pollinator
Posts: 2339
357
books cat chicken duck rabbit transportation trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We did this for corn and potatoes and have since the 1970's. We used Oats and Winter Rye so that we got SOME nitrogen back into the soil reducing our nitrogen needs, but honestly was not a lot because it was cropped off. If it was left, it would put more into the soil of course. I would think for beans and other root crops it might work well.
 
pollinator
Posts: 147
Location: istanbul - turkey
40
books dog greening the desert hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It is a very interesting subject I think. I don't have any experience though, but I think it is different than growing veggies in pasture. I came across the subject in a blog when I was searching information about Wagyu cattle. The writer of the blog owns a farm (thriplow farms) in the UK, and documented his trips to the US, Denmark, South America, New Zeland and Australia. Apperantly he is interested in cover crops, no-till, soil health, companion planting and wangu cattle. His blog is full with pictures and very informative. He took pictures of soils! I highly recommend to check it out.
His posts about pasture cropping: pasture_triplow farms
His trip to Australia: australia_triplow farms

......What came out of it eventually evolved into Pasture Cropping. In the traditional system, pastures were established, grazed for 3 years, then ploughed up and drilled with a cereal. The problem is fairly obvious – getting a pasture going is expensive and quite time consuming, so it seems a waste to kill it off after such a short period of time. The answer is to not kill it off at all, but to drill straight in, and then let it regrow after the cereal is harvested.

But the key to making this possible is the climate. Australia is pretty hot, it’s been 35C today. In the winter it cools down quite a bit, and critically, the difference between summer and winter just crosses over the boundary that separates cool season and warm season plant growing conditions....

.......This means that during the winter, almost all of the pastures’ productivity stops as the warm season plants become dormant. This is the perfect time to plant a cool season cereal, such as oats or wheat, as there will be no competition from the perennials that are already there...

 
Gilbert Fritz
pollinator
Posts: 1529
Location: Denver, CO
44
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Bryant, how do you go about rotating between grasses and grains? Do you disturb the existing grasses somehow? The main vegetable crops I'm hoping to grow are winter squash, melons, sunflowers, and other large, vigorous, hot weather crops. Do the sweet potatoes and turnips get crowded out by the other plants over time?

Chris, so you are saying that it would work better to have permanent pasture strips instead of having the two superimposed? You may be right; and if the strips were narrow enough, the effects would probably be the same. Of course, there would be a lot more fencing to divide everything into strips, and fencing is not cheap.

In my context, I'm working on a small scale (quarter acre to acre) and in a suburban setting, where I might have to replace grazing animals with a mower. My main problem is the establishment of cover crops; I'd hoped that a dormant cool weather cover that would bounce back to grow in the Fall and Spring would make sense. I suppose that alternating rows of perennial cover, mowed down and blown onto the vegetable rows as mulch, might make more sense then trying to get a cover to go dormant under the vegetables.

Travis, how do you alternate between the grasses and potatoes?

S., thanks for the information! I will check it out; it looks like the info I was looking for. So I might not have enough difference between heat and cold for this to work . . .
 
Gilbert Fritz
pollinator
Posts: 1529
Location: Denver, CO
44
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

But the key to making this possible is the climate. Australia is pretty hot, it’s been 35C today. In the winter it cools down quite a bit, and critically, the difference between summer and winter just crosses over the boundary that separates cool season and warm season plant growing conditions....



I wonder. It looks like the boundary is 80 F, 27C. Is this average temperature or daily high temperature? Looking up the local (NSW) weather data, this must be the average daily high. So here in Denver CO., we have three months in the summer that are over this point, the rest are under; so far rather similar to NSW. But, and this is critical, our lows during the cold part of the year are a good bit lower. Their average lows are never below freezing, my average lows are. So growing a cool weather grain in warm weather pasture is unlikely to work as well, (though winter wheat is a commercial crop here, planted the beginning of September, harvested the end of July.) Also, they have more rainfall (25 inches as opposed to our 15) and importantly, it is spread evenly around the year.

Now reversing things, as I hope to do, might work better here. Cool weather grasses, warm weather crops. I don't know. I guess I'd just have to experiment. The cool season grasses would grow vigorously in our wet springs, (and wouldn't be hurt by erratic snows and hail as a cool weather crop would) and would start dying back just when warm weather vegetables would be put in. They could be hurried up with a sheet of black plastic or a clear hoop house. They would have used up all the moisture from our spring wet season, but that wouldn't matter, since I have to irrigate vegetable crops anyway, and it is easier to use the spring moisture to grow organic matter and nitrogen then using it to grow crops of any sort. Even cool weather crops struggle in the spring, due to erratic temperatures and storms.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4974
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
588
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Gilbert Fritz wrote:Bryant, how do you go about rotating between grasses and grains? Do you disturb the existing grasses somehow? The main vegetable crops I'm hoping to grow are winter squash, melons, sunflowers, and other large, vigorous, hot weather crops. Do the sweet potatoes and turnips get crowded out by the other plants over time?  



I just roll the grasses down and plant through, the grasses are not going to die but the grains will stunt them until the harvest of the heads of grain, then I roll down the stems (straw) and  let the grasses come through again. A lot of the time the animals will do a lot of the maintenance work for me.
 
Posts: 170
Location: Denmark 57N
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

s. ayalp wrote:It is a very interesting subject I think. I don't have any experience though, but I think it is different than growing veggies in pasture. I came across the subject in a blog when I was searching information about Wagyu cattle. The writer of the blog owns a farm (thriplow farms) in the UK, and documented his trips to the US, Denmark, South America, New Zeland and Australia. Apperantly he is interested in cover crops, no-till, soil health, companion planting and wangu cattle. His blog is full with pictures and very informative. He took pictures of soils! I highly recommend to check it out.



Very interesting read he has one article on Denmark which states this

  For a starter, the maximum amount of nitrogen that can be applied to a wheat crop is 138kg/ha – some people in the UK use double this. It is also a mandatory requirement to have a minimum of 10% of the farm in cover crops every winter, or else you lose another 50kg/ha of N off next season’s allowance. The government is also totally prescriptive on what the cover crop can consist of: there are two choices, neither of which I asked Søren about today, but if my memory serves me correctly from 2 years ago, one is ryegrass, the other is a brassica. No legumes are permitted, which seems a bizarre oversight if you are worried about artificial N getting into water supplies.



I did not know the choice of cover crops was so limited, defiantly an oversight on my part we're not registered this year but will be next so will have to abide by those rules. Now on to the N. Danish wheat cannot be sold outside the country, because the quality is so poor no one will buy it, You cannot buy danish bread flour, again because the protein yield is too low to make good bread. There are also some other rules that cause this, one is the gentleman's agreement that no wheat for human consumption will be pre harvest treated with glycophosphate (sp) and another is the very low levels of pesticides permitted. Interestingly despite all this the drinking water in many areas is STILL over the legal limits on pesticide and other contaminates. People get round the covercrop by planting winter wheat and rape. they are harvested around August and then the field ploughed and replanted, or left until spring where maize for cattle feed will be planted in Late may. so no real covercrop as it were, although it does at least stop the wind erosion on a dry winter.

Back to the OP, it is normal practice here to plant a mix of grass and whatever grain you like in the spring and then bale off the grain crop before it sets for silage. Some farmers let it go to maturity and then put cattle on the field on the grass, but 90% of cattle have by law to be in over winter so there is only a couple of months they can be on the field. We cannot do what you are suggesting as nothing grows for 4-5 months of the year here and it never gets hot enough to stop anything growing, I can happily grow lettuce and spinach in full sun in july without problems.
 
Gilbert Fritz
pollinator
Posts: 1529
Location: Denver, CO
44
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for all the discussion everyone!

Bryant, what kind of grasses are they? What kind of roller do you use? I'm surprised they are suppressed enough to allow for a grain crop. What are the yields like?

s. ayalp and Skandi, I'm really enjoying that blog! He covers all sorts of interesting stuff.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4974
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
588
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I use: Side oats, Buffalo grass, yellow clover, crimson clover, Bermuda, and several sedges. I use a homemade crimp roller that uses water for weight when desired, this does have spiraling ridges welded on the steel cylinder.

To grow a grain crop all I have to do is run the crimp roller over the alley then plant with the grain(s), this spring I am going to put in Farro so I can harvest it for seeds for more farro planting.
The great thing about  most grains is that they will sprout and grow faster in the spring than if you did the over winter planting, this gives them a good start before the grasses come out of the crush.
By the time grasses are ready to come out of the crush, the grains are tall enough to shade the grasses, when you harvest the grain and run the roller over it (unweighted, that breaks the straws at the base so they will rot in place).
I usually have at least 5 types of plant seeds in the same alley so no matter what, something is growing and something is decaying and something is sprouting.
 
Gilbert Fritz
pollinator
Posts: 1529
Location: Denver, CO
44
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Bryant, that is very interesting. Have you ever tried planting vegetables such as winter squash after rolling perennial grasses? (I know you mentioned winter squash in one of your paddocks, but I was not sure if that was part of the same system.)

Currently, my plan is as follows:

A cool weather, summer dormant stand of perennials comes up in the spring; they would have an advantage over spring sown annual covers. I'm hoping to included both grasses and legumes. It is hard to figure out which plants actually go dormant; some summer dormant plants are photoperiod sensitive, some are temperature sensitive, and others are drought sensitive. Photoperiod and temperature induced dormancy would be better for my purposes, since the following crop will be irrigated. However, so long as they are all cool weather plants, it may not matter so much if they go dormant as such, particularly in light of what Bryant said above. (And buffalo and Bermuda grasses are warm weather ones!)

These perennials grow into May or early June, using the usually ample water at that time of year, keeping spring weeds down, generating biomass and fixing nitrogen, while protecting the field from traffic damage (tilled fields are often unworkable in spring due to high clay content and soggy weather.) Then, as the rains stop and temperatures rise, they start to go dormant/ set seed.

At that point I'll suppress them with some mixture of tarping, rolling, mowing, or grazing; I'll experiment with what most effectively sends them into dormancy while allowing them to recover in the Fall. I would guess that temporary tarping would be quite effective by raising temperatures while producing a rolling effect.

Then I will plant warm weather annual vegetables; squash, melons, tomato transplants, etc.

The perennials will come back in the Fall as temperatures drop. This is particularly important to me. Fall weather is dry, windy, sunny, and erratic, with the first frost ranging between September 10th and the end of October. Warm weather crops are often on the field too late to allow for establishment of any annual cover crops, and the dry, sunny weather makes establishment very difficult. I hope that a few sprinkle irrigations will get the perennials growing again under the annual crops in September.

At some point in the Fall I may broadcast some annual cover crops. The perennial growth should allow for better germination, and I don't have to get an even, close stand; they would at least add some diversity. If they don't make it, it would be no great loss.

The next year, instead of planting in a vegetable crop, I'll put in a warm weather "grain" or cover crop, over sown in the perennials; buckwheat, millet, Sudan grass, annual alfalfa, cowpeas; this would suppress perennial summer weeds (bindweed particularly, but also grasses) that would start growing just as the spring perennials died back. I hope that the vegetable years don't allow these weeds to get too far ahead, since hoeing or other methods of cultivation might be difficult. These summer covers would also add even more organic matter and some of them would provide a yield.

I may also establish a plot of summer perennials to cover the ground in between cool weather grain or vegetable crops, but I'm not sure this would work as well in this climate.

I post lots of ideas on permies, but I'm rather bad at coming back to report how they worked. I'll try to keep this thread updated.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4974
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
588
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hau Gilbert, your plan sounds very good and I think it will work famously.  I do plant winter squashes in rolled grass areas and they do very well, I don't worry should the grasses come back sooner than I thought they would, I just make an adjustment the next year.

I do graze the pastures, animals are good lawnmowers LOL. The two acres I'm working on getting ready now are for the Donkey and the deer.
I prefer perennials far over annuals for most pasture growth. I used to add in squashes for the hogs but we are getting out of the hog business here since the market has gone dead.

Redhawk
 
Gilbert Fritz
pollinator
Posts: 1529
Location: Denver, CO
44
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Bryant! That is a very useful piece of information! Did you fence out the hogs until the squash had produced fruit? Do you have thread anywhere on permies about your roller?

I'm spending some time looking up various grasses. So far, it looks like Sandberg Bluegrass, (Poa secunda) would work; it is dormant in the summer even if irrigated, native to this area, has a deep, extensive root system, is good at colonizing bare ground, flowers in late May, greens up early in the spring, and is resistant to trampling (so that I hope it would come back well in the Fall despite the disturbance from gardening.) Poa Bulbosa would also work, but it is considered invasive here. Dactylis glomerata may be another species to look into. It is not on the Colorado government list of invasive plants, though it is considered invasive by some authors. I'd like to mix in several types of grasses.

I'm also looking up legumes that would fit into the cool season perennials. I asked the extension service, but they could only recommend various cool weather annuals (vetch, crimson clover) that would die back in the summer and that might reseed. Given the Fall weather here, I rather doubt it. So I'll have to keep looking. Lupines might work; they flower and die down in the spring; they are toxic, though, so they would not work if grazing is desired, unless there are non-toxic varieties.

Various other plants might be added; native bulb flowers might add a really cool touch and provide more diversity.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4974
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
588
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
No, our hogs seem to leave plants alone until they decide there is enough fruits on it to make it worth their while to eat it all.

For your area, go out to the wilderness and look at what is growing during the season you want things to grow in, that will give you the best set of plants to use because they are the naturally occurring ones selected by nature herself.

What I did was to go through our area and gathered seeds from all the grasses that were growing naturally, hence the side oats and others. I even ended up with some pale Echinacea that grows wild here.
Once you know the Natural plants, you can find others that will grow in the same conditions and soils and bingo, you have better diversity available.
 
Posts: 15
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Once saw a YouTube video on cover crops
Can't find it again
But he threw all his veg seeds in the drill hopper .
All mixed up .
I in 5 acres he had normal cover plus the veggies
The town was welcome to harvest
You had to knock down the 3 ft high cover go find
Cucumbers , tomatoes, squash,  pumpkin  .....
It proves there are no weeds
Just competition  for different root zones   each a compliment to each other

At the end he let his cows in .  They loved it
 
Travis Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 2339
357
books cat chicken duck rabbit transportation trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Gilbert Fritz wrote:Travis, how do you alternate between the grasses and potatoes?



We planted the winter rye or oats between the rows, especially with corn because after the corn was cropped off, there was the winter rye and corn cobs and stalks knocked off by the chopper that the livestock could eat.

With potatoes it was every other year because it is very rare to plant potatoes two years in a row due to the tremendous strain they inflicted to the soil. We could not really graze the sheep and cows either because commercial potatoes get sprayed to kill the tops and that would kill the winter rye or oats. Additionally the sheep would paw at the potato mounds and eat the potato crop.

Another way, but always a gamble because winter rye seed costs money, was to harrow the corn just after it was chopped off, then reseed with winter rye; IF winter held off, the winter rye would take root and grow. In a great year it would be high enough to graze that fall after the other grasses died off, allowing me to save my winter feed (hay), then again that spring before the other grasses grew. In that way I could extend grazing significantly because I was extending it on both ends. In a not so great year, I might only get a few early weeks of spring grazing...

But it was always a gamble. If winter set in quick, then I had spent money on seed for nothing. The whole point was to save on feed so those hay bales could be sold. At $40 a bale, and $18 an acre for seed and some diesel fuel for tilling,...it was close on costs.
 
Gilbert Fritz
pollinator
Posts: 1529
Location: Denver, CO
44
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

For your area, go out to the wilderness and look at what is growing during the season you want things to grow in, that will give you the best set of plants to use because they are the naturally occurring ones selected by nature herself.



I've never seen any legumes that seem like they would work. The only widespread legume I've seen here is alfalfa, which probably grows too vigorously during the summer. As a matter of fact, my research on local legumes is not too promising; it does not look like most of them have the habits I would need.

For grasses, the trouble is figuring out which are dormant, and which are merely dry. All the local herbaceous flora here goes brown in June/ July (except the alfalfa with its 15 foot roots.) However, many, if not most, of the grasses will grow vigorously all summer if watered, competing with the crops. Some, such as the sandburg grass mentioned above, are really and truly dormant; they will not regrow until the Fall, even with irrigation; these types would be optimal. Even with rolling or tarping, I imagine that some of the wild grasses here would compete for water pretty heavily in August; water is our limiting resource, so I'd like to minimize the competition.

As far as the legume component, which perennial clovers are the least vigorous during the summer? I'm sure there must be a wide range of heat tolerance, but most people like to talk about how heat tolerant their strain of clover is, not the reverse. I want a legume that suffers in the summer heat, while still coming back strong in the Fall.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4974
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
588
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Gilbert, isn't there a university there? I would imagine that they have a biology department that will have the information you need available. Plants, life cycles, all that should be there, just need to find out which professor teaches the class and ask them.
If they won't help you might find the information at a high school, Science teachers usually have great information and are willing to share their knowledge usually.
 
Gilbert Fritz
pollinator
Posts: 1529
Location: Denver, CO
44
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Bryant, that is a great idea; I don't know why I didn't think about it before.
 
Gilbert Fritz
pollinator
Posts: 1529
Location: Denver, CO
44
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
No practical progress made on this yet.

But I'm still interested and still researching. Before I do a large scale test I'll have to get some semi-permanent land, preferably without heavy weed pressure.

The patch I was getting ready to use a year ago turned out to have so much bindweed that I didn't want to bother trying to plant perennials, and I will only be able to use if for one more year. If I was to use it longer, I'd try to suppress the bindweed and then get perennial cover growing (other that the bindweed!) for these experiments.

But I did plant 15 pea varieties in a standard garden bed to trial overwintering. I think peas sown in September and harvested in July as a dry crop might work sown into a dormant summer pasture, if I can get them to overwinter. The problem is lack of snow-cover here in the winter. They are looking a little sad, but still alive so far.
 
Seriously? That's what you're going with? I prefer this tiny ad:
Self-Sufficiency on nearly 10 acres of Eden
https://permies.com/t/95939/Sufficiency-acres-Eden-renter-utilize
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!