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Fertilizing pasture

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  • Fertilizing pasture

    My pastures are starting to look a little thin, so we've decided we need to fertilize. We may or may not pull soil samples first (I know we should ). What are people's thoughts on liquid fertilizer versus granular fertilizer? We're in the south with mainly bermuda/centipede grass, although we do overseed with a rye pasture blend every fall. Any recommendations for a good general fertilizer, and any other advice or tips? I'm a bit embarrassed to say this, but we've never fertilized in the 7 or so years since we bought our farm.

  • #2
    I would STRONGLY suggest getting the soil sample before fertilizing. Soil test results will show you exactly what is needed for your crop of "pasture grass". You really should not buy "a general fertilizer" for doing fields.

    Buying "a general" fertilizer, instead of buying specifically what the land needs for a crop, is wasted money. Possible pollution for others to deal with in runoff. The fertilizer components not needed, excesses, tend to wash away in rain, get into the water system. That "extra stuff" can make the weeds, alge, grow like crazy. So you have help produce clogged streams, clogged lakes, poor air quality in your whole water system for fish and HELPFUL plants. Totally knocks the natural balance out of whack in an extremely unhealthy way.

    So as a "steward of the land" which is what horse farms, large land owners and crop farmers really are, you have to pay attention to what you put on the land, because the effects don't stop at your property line! What you do can harm others, their lands. Might be a little or a lot.

    I have not used spray fertilizer, just the granular stuff. It seems like the spray would be thinner, so an application might not last as long. Ask the fertiizer person! Mine told me that application of hydrated lime would last a LOT longer than granulated, but it would take longer to show results as it worked into the soil. Cheaper as well, but it was messier to deal with. So find out the good and poor of each type. Having the liquid applied with the big machines will cost more than renting the spreader wagon to pull with your own tractor. Maybe the liquid is better used by living plants? Fertilizer supplier should have these answers for you.

    I would caution you in NOT using Urea on pasture. Even with waiting time to use those fields, we know horses who foundered after the fertilizing was done. Owners had Urea in the mix. I use another product that does the same job, but not the chance of Urea problems after. You can ask the Fertilizer guy about it. Cost was almost exactly the same for Urea or the other product, so no expense added. Husband won't have Urea used on the place, because of the founder issue, so this works well for us. I just keep saying "no Urea, this is for HORSES" so everyone is paying attention to MY order, not using the common Urea in our mix.

    I wouldn't think of applying fertilizer right now because we get no rain to speak of this time of year. It would burn my pasture plants pretty bad if I didn't get rain after spreading the fertilizer. We do fertilizer applications in spring or fall for that needed rain reason.

    Your location, using liquid fertilizer, might have other factors to consider in timing your fertilizer applications. Ask and KNOW WHY you choose the things you do. Lack of knowledge can cause a lot damage, then you have regrets to deal with because of problems that it caused.


    • #3
      It used to be that the greenhouses would evaluate your soil samples for free. Maybe Home Depot and/or the local Cooperative Extension service will do the same. Think of how much money you could save if you find out you need more lime or something other than fertilizer... or I should say, think of how much you might waste by using the wrong product.
      "Random capitAlization really Makes my day." -- AndNirina


      • Original Poster

        Good advice, and I'll tell the hubby not to be too "triggger happy" about fertilizing and have the soil sample done first. Unfortunately, we're not in a "horsey" area - we're in a major golf course area, so that is what our fertilizer people know about. Great to know about the Urea and founder issue, we'll be sure to steer clear of that! Please keep any other advice coming


        • #5
          never fiddle with a foliar type fertilizer....lottsa smoke and some good mirrors

          Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
          I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


          • #6
            Does anyone fertilize with composted manure?


            • #7
              Originally posted by Tamara in TN View Post
              never fiddle with a foliar type fertilizer....lottsa smoke and some good mirrors


              Actually they are commonly used in the greenhouse business.

              However, I don't think they are needed in the pasture environment. They do offer a minimal amount of instant absorbtion through the leaf surface....

              Alas, as mentioned above, do a soil test. Whatever time and money you spend on that is well worth it and you can save it in fertilizer.

              All fertilizers have the basic compounds in it (NPK). the combination is key here.
              N is the nitrogen, but not all is created equal. there are compounds that are directly water soluable. Good when you need the grass to absorb it in a hurry, bad when you expect a lot of rain.

              Then there are combination that take a while to break down...

              P is potassium. it's responsible for flower and fruit setting. Not so much needed in grasses.

              K is Kalium, potash. it also works on flowers and fruit, but overall hardens the plant.
              Nitrogen makes plants grow fast but a bit soft. Potash helps them to ripen and become more sturdy. It's something that is most often important in late summer to ready everything for winter. Fleshy new green grows freezes easily.

              now, there is also the pH balance. Not all nutrients are accessable all the times. For some the pH has to be just so. So your soil test might show eough potassium in the soil, but the plants can't get to it because the soil is too sour or alkaline.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Alagirl View Post
                P is potassium. it's responsible for flower and fruit setting. Not so much needed in grasses.
                P is phosphorus. Needed for energy and strong roots. Also often deficient in equine diets.

                Originally posted by Alagirl View Post
                K is Kalium, potash.
                Only if you're German. This is potassium in English, aka potash. Potassium is important for water retention, drought tolerance and winter hardiness.
                Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Katy Watts View Post
                  P is phosphorus. Needed for energy and strong roots. Also often deficient in equine diets.
                  You are not supposed to feed them fertilizer though.

                  Only if you're German. This is potassium in English, aka potash. Potassium is important for water retention, drought tolerance and winter hardiness.
                  It's the chemical name, reason why it's 'K' and not P on the label.