Fall Pasture Management
Fall Pasture Management for Lush Spring Results
For a lush pasture next spring, start planning now. Fall pasture management is key. Fall is the prime time to prepare and plant, and doing so gives your field a head start on growth.
Start with the Soil
If you haven’t tested your soil in the past two or three years, now’s the time to do it. Your results will tell you whether or not you need to add any lime, as well as the type of fertilization you’ll need.
If your soil test results indicate a pH of 5.9 or lower, you’ll want to add lime to raise the pH. A pH level of 6.0 or higher means the soil is nutrient-rich; the more nutrients in your soil, the better the conditions are for growing a robust and healthy pasture. When applying lime, make sure you keep your horses out of the fields until the rain has a chance to wash the lime into the ground.
Your soil test results should also tell you about the kind of fertilizer you’ll need by revealing phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) levels. Apply your fertilizer by the end of October or the beginning of November to encourage winter hardiness and healthy spring growth.
Mowing & Dragging
As part of your pasture management, consider mowing to encourage even growth. As a bonus, mowing can also play a role in weed control.
Drag your pasture for even manure spreading and to recycle the nutrients from the manure back into the soil.
Seeding & Weed Management
Fall seeding gives your pasture time to establish deep roots. These roots will provide plants with the energy they’ll need for spring growth. You’ll want to plant a nutritionally sound pasture and not one that promotes rapid weight gain. The type of seed depends on what part of the country you’re in; here in Kentucky, we like a blend of Kentucky bluegrass, orchard grass, perennial ryegrass, and white clover. This is also a great time to apply herbicides for biannual and perennial weeds; using an herbicide now gives it the chance to work its way down to the weeds’ roots to get rid of them before the next growing season. Be sure to apply before the first frost.
A Greener Spring
If you’ve taken these steps to encourage a hardy spring pasture, you should be in good shape when the new growing season arrives. One final step you can take is to keep your horse off the field over the winter, to avoid wear and tear. Once growth begins, let it reach 5-6” before you allow your horses to start grazing. This is a significant step in correct pasture management.
If you’re interested in any of our products to get you through the colder days of winter, check out some of our products HERE.