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I need a pasture rehab plan

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  • I need a pasture rehab plan

    FIRST of all: I have contacted my extension office! I'd really like them to help me! I know they're great and helpful and amazing elsewhere, but OH MY I am getting NOWHERE. FAST. Maybe this county is too urban? I think they'd be awesome if I had a problem with my lawn, or a question about my rhododendrons. Horse pastures? Noooooo. Seemingly not.

    Now that's out of the way...

    I have about three acres of horse pasture that's probably never been maintained past initial seeding and occasional manure spreading. It is FULL of weeds, and I recognize a whole lot of buttercup. I know that's on the toxic list, I know I need to get rid of it, and I know it's late in the season to be spraying for it. What do I use? Do I mow, then spray?

    I also know I probably need to fertilize. And lime? Soil test first, right? Once I have that, when is an appropriate time to put down fertilizer? When is an appropriate time to lime? Do I need to overseed at some point?

    How about ongoing, yearly maintenance of the fields? What should that look like, roughly?

  • #2
    I'd think a lot of the U of MN Extension information on pasture management would be applicable to your area if you can't get your local extension office to help.

    Education for equine owners on maintaining productive pasture, fertilizing, site planning, pasture soil sample, transitioning horses to spring pasture, identifying and controlling weeds, and poisonous and dangerous plants from University of Minnesota Extension experts.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by Leather View Post
      I'd think a lot of the U of MN Extension information on pasture management would be applicable to your area if you can't get your local extension office to help.
      I do love those guys!

      I'm 2 + planting zones warmer, though, so I don't know how applicable their timelines are?

      Oh, and still no recommendations about WHAT to spray for the buttercups or how to deal with them so late in the season

      Comment


      • #4
        From Tamara:

        "if the new growth has not broken the surface you can use 24D...
        otherwise, buttercup and sheep sorrel have to be killed when they are less than 3 inches tall (once you see the color it's too late as they say)...normally mid mar-april to really waste them

        Tamara"

        https://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/f...ing-buttercups
        ----------------------------------------
        PSSM / EPSM and Shivers Forum
        http://pssm.xanthoria.com/
        ----------------------------------------

        Comment


        • #5
          The barn I work at FINALLY gave me permission to spray the buttercups about a month ago. By that time, they were waist high bushes, a solid sea of yellow flowers... The area I was spraying is 3.2 acres, and I used 2 gallons of Gordon's Pasture Pro, 1/2 gal of surfactant, and 80 gallons of water in our boom sprayer. We purposely mixed it at a pretty high concentration... and it knocked the buttercups right down. They withered and shriveled by the next day.... We scalped on day 10 - there was NO GRASS so no risk of cutting anything too short. The fields have gotten a good amount of rain, and the grass is coming back beautifully.

          Comment


          • #6
            Lime takes a while for lime to actually have an effect - so you can go ahead and put it out but it won't do you any good this season. If it were me I would go ahead and test your soil so you know how much lime you need, but you can do that later or even in the off season, as it takes months for it to make a difference.

            I would mow to try to keep the weeds down (not too short, though 5 to 6 inches) and go ahead and fertilize. Next year you can get an earlier start on your problems. Interestingly, I tested my pastures last December and was shocked to see that they didn't need any lime at all.

            Also, my most productive move for my pastures was to overseed this Spring. It thickened up my grass considerably.
            Last edited by stb; Jun. 20, 2017, 08:13 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              [QUOTE=Simkie;n9792327 when is an appropriate time to put down fertilizer? When is an appropriate time to lime? Do I need to overseed at some point?

              How about ongoing, yearly maintenance of the fields?[/QUOTE]

              I'm doing some investigating myself -- my pastures need help as well. So soil testing through Cornell is my first step. After the results tell me what nutrients are lacking and what the PH is, then I'll be able to determine fertilizer and lime needs.

              Apparently lime doesn't affect the soil right away -- needs to really soak in -- takes months for it to 'work'. So my plan is to lime before winter so as to let rain/snow really get the lime down into the soil for a spring time effect.

              I will then fertilize in early spring so the soil is ready for seed -- and rather than overseed I think I'm going to let the grass 'go to seed' on it's own before I do my first mowing. Since I don't have a way to keep my horses completely off their pastures while grass seed sprouts and then grows, I'd rather let nature do it's thing and hope for the best. To spend a ton of $$ on bags of seed only to see it get trampled and eaten before it roots, seems like a waste.

              I will however, temporarily fence off certain parts of the pastures that are currently destroyed. I will overseed these spots and keep the horses off them for a full season so the grass can really take hold.

              My biggest problem is a particular invasive weed that has taken over -- its in ALL of my pastures -- more weed than grass in places. So I learned how this weed functions and am taking steps to erradicate it with timed/repeated mowings + weed killer + trying to avoid killing grass. Very time consuming and careful 'spot' treatments of weed killer -- trying just to hit the weeds.

              When I bought this farm in NY 10 years ago -- (the previous owner didn't have horses & only mowed the fields now and then and didn't control weeds) -- I was immediatly saddled with a bad weed problem and thought that 'mowing' as management would bring the fields back up to par. WRONG! Seeds can stay viable in the ground for years....

              .....and being that some invasive weeds are perennials that can over-winter quite well and will live for several seasons before dying, all I began to see over time were more and more of these weeds getting a foothold in my beautifully mowed pastures.

              My previous farm in NJ (that I owned for 20 years) had always been a horse farm and the pastures were historically well taken care of -- no invasive weed species -- farmer next door limed and fertilized for me, knew the 'land' and helped me keep pastures in top form. NY farm a whole different story!

              It's going to take years of hard work and management in all forms to get my pastures in great shape.

              Only saving grace is that my pastures in their current shape are not lush. Horses really have to forage for grass = lower chance of any of them getting laminitis. But if I do nothing to improve pastures, the horses will eventually have NO grass to eat.

              Comment


              • #8
                Following along to learn - we have three pastures that are currently at least waist high with grass, weeds, who knows what. So learning all I can! And definitely going to use the U of M Extension - one perk to living in MN!

                Comment


                • #9
                  I think you would be wasting your money to try to spray the buttercups now. Just mow them off for now and hit them hard with 2-4-D in the spring.

                  Usually lime is best in the fall, but like others have said, it takes a while to make a difference, so anytime is probably okay. Seeding is supposedly more effective in the fall than the spring, but I've done both.

                  The University of MD has a lot of information online about pasture management, which might be pretty similar to what you need for OH.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I also found my county agent useless. Super nice, but useless. He told me to "Round up" my whole pasture and "start over," by which he meant plant all bermuda. At the time, I was two years into trying to get native grass to grow. I'm fine with bermuda, but I certainly wasn't interested in killing off my fledgling native grasses! A year after that (now), my native grasses are coming along nicely.
                    I have a Fjord! Life With Oden

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My best advice for your small field is to fence it into seven sections. Yes, I know they'll be ridiculously small. (I only have 1.25 acres, so, really, I know.) Put your horses on each section for five days, and then move them to the next. That will give each field five days on and 30 days off.

                      When you move the horses off a section, mow it (high). Spray for weeds. Sprinkle native seeds on the bare spots then shovel the poop onto the bare spots. Then let it rest for 30 days.

                      If you have any spots that stay flooded after a rain, dig a drainage channel. Standing water smothers both the microbes and the grass making that spot perfect for weeds.

                      Overgrazing is a function of how long the horses are able to bite off the blade before the root has a chance to recover. By limiting them to five days on a section, you eliminate that.
                      I have a Fjord! Life With Oden

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by moving to dc View Post
                        The barn I work at FINALLY gave me permission to spray the buttercups about a month ago. By that time, they were waist high bushes, a solid sea of yellow flowers... The area I was spraying is 3.2 acres, and I used 2 gallons of Gordon's Pasture Pro, 1/2 gal of surfactant, and 80 gallons of water in our boom sprayer. We purposely mixed it at a pretty high concentration... and it knocked the buttercups right down. They withered and shriveled by the next day.... We scalped on day 10 - there was NO GRASS so no risk of cutting anything too short. The fields have gotten a good amount of rain, and the grass is coming back beautifully.
                        Thanks VERY much for the specifics! I will definitely look into Pasture Pro. Glad to hear your pasture is doing well!


                        And thanks all for the info about liming and timing. I will certainly have the soil tested before fertilizing or liming...perhaps that branch of the extension office will be more helpful about making recommendations on products and timing for improving the soil.


                        Cindyg thanks for the recommendations on rotating, but I have that covered. I'm looking specifically for information on herbicide, fertilizing and overseeding. What you've suggested isn't at all feasible or safe for my set up and horses.


                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I went to my local hay supplier/farm store and bought a 24D product this spring and we added two TBS of Dish soap to each mix. We Sprayed when weeds were around 3 inches. I HAD buttercups as well and LOTS of clover. I kept a barrier area between the grazing paddocks and hay field. The hay is BEAUTIFUL! I have previously begged people to cut andhaul it off. This year my friend and I are splitting it. Pray that I get a second sutting. I just sectioned off another acre of it for pasture though and will re-seed all of it in the fall. I may also hit up the grazing paddocks with 24d in the fall, they are 99% clover and I have a barn full of fatties.
                          Shoulders back, hands down, leg ON!

                          https://clshrs3.wixsite.com/website

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            It sounds like hitting the weeds when they're wee like that is the way to go, mellsmom! I wish I'd known to really look at the field earlier in the spring for this stuff....I'd assumed that the people we bought the place from had maintained the fields to some extent (at least gotten rid of the TOXIC stuff!) but no.

                            Livestock person from the extension office (yay! someone who knows about horses!) sent me a note and suggested Crossbow for woody stuff/buttercups. Any feedback on that? I know it's a spendier than straight 2,4-D but does more. We don't have a boatload of pasture, so cost isn't crazy.

                            And any ideas on where to rent a 55 gal sprayer we can use with the tractor? Doesn't look like United Rental has that. I know they're in the $600-700 range to buy new, which isn't crazy and we'll get one eventually, but that's not an expense we had on the list for this summer.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I just bought this 16 gallon sprayer from Northern Tool + Equipment. -- 169.00 -- It works great! Fits on the back of an ATV - easy to put together and the pump runs off the ATV's battery. Perfect for weed killer spot spraying .

                              They have different tank sizes, also have boom sprayers too and other types as well -- very affordable/well made -- five star reviews unlike the ones sold at Tractor Supply.



                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                                ...And any ideas on where to rent a 55 gal sprayer we can use with the tractor? Doesn't look like United Rental has that. I know they're in the $600-700 range to buy new, which isn't crazy and we'll get one eventually, but that's not an expense we had on the list for this summer.
                                I am not sure if any rental places will have a boom sprayer. You might look at hiring a commercial landscaping company to spray???? But it might end up costing you as much as buying a sprayer.

                                We bought our boom sprayer at TSC way back in 2004. It has always been kept sheltered, and the husband blows the lines out before winter every year. The few parts that have deteriorated/rotted over time have been simple to find and replace (lines/joints, etc). You might want to find out when TSC has a 0% promo going on, and just grab one now...

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                                  FIRST of all: I have contacted my extension office! I'd really like them to help me! I know they're great and helpful and amazing elsewhere, but OH MY I am getting NOWHERE. FAST. Maybe this county is too urban? I think they'd be awesome if I had a problem with my lawn, or a question about my rhododendrons. Horse pastures? Noooooo. Seemingly not.

                                  Now that's out of the way...

                                  I have about three acres of horse pasture that's probably never been maintained past initial seeding and occasional manure spreading. It is FULL of weeds, and I recognize a whole lot of buttercup. I know that's on the toxic list, I know I need to get rid of it, and I know it's late in the season to be spraying for it. What do I use? Do I mow, then spray?

                                  I also know I probably need to fertilize. And lime? Soil test first, right? Once I have that, when is an appropriate time to put down fertilizer? When is an appropriate time to lime? Do I need to overseed at some point?

                                  How about ongoing, yearly maintenance of the fields? What should that look like, roughly?
                                  Do you have a local CO-OP. they can also help you

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Some good advise being given. But IMO and experience more based on book experience than hands on. Starting with the "book" and learning under actual field conditions.

                                    I can only give general advised based on things I have encountered, done on my farm. A visual field inspection yields much better, sounder advise. Pretty much the same as giving conformation advise, criticism based on one posted picture.

                                    I am assuming this paddock has had horses on it for a long time? Your's or the previous owners. IMO and experience the number one contributing factor to a crappy paddock is soil compaction. Horses have a tremendous compacting ability lot of weight being put on 4 very small tapping bars. Grasses struggle in compacted soil, stunts its growth and spreading abilities. But most weeds grow well in it. Especially because the grasses are weak and unable to compete with the weeds, crowd, shade new growth out. Weeds suck the moisture out of the ground and don't need as much as grasses. So during hot summer dry spells the grasses struggle even more.

                                    Deep aerating from time to time produces a big bank for the effort. "Twist" aerators work the best.But they are not easy to find/rent in some areas. Because of their size and weight you need a pretty good size tractor to operate safely. The tractor needs to have really good breaking strength/distance. Especially going down hilly sections. Ask me how I know,lol.

                                    Resting a paddock for around 2 months during rainy season loosens things up pretty good. Over freezing winter conditions even more because of the freeze, thaw cycles.

                                    As others have said getting the soil tested is a good thing. But is not a absolute necessity to get things going, all things being equal. I have tested more than 50 acres around my farm from time to time. I don't practice what I preach as much as I would like. Because it is expensive to go by the "book". If the market forces of the horse business allowed I would. But the majority of people don't want to pay for it. But they expect anyway. People who do horses for a living aren't expected to make a decent return on investment. Because after all it is supposed to be a "labor of love", Yea right...

                                    I have only completely fertilized and limed a few times over the 14 years I have had this farm due to the expense. What I have found when doing soil testing from time to time is the fact the numbers do not change that much. But I am located in Ag area with great soil. That's why it is one of the best crop growing areas in the country.

                                    The soil testing report will give pretty exacting numbers. It will give the PH and other "nutritional qualities" what is lacking and what is not. It will give specific amounts needed per acre. Generally lime be the most. PH of 7 is ideal for grass. But it generally grows just fine when the number is 6.5--. As other have said Lime takes months to work into the ground, bind with the soil and change the PH. So it can be applied anytime of the year. Most farms lime in the fall. It is best not to lime when periods of heavy rains are expected. Especially on hilly ground. The rains will wash much of it way and pool it in low areas. Best to is lime when light rains are expected. After a field, paddock is limed with will look like it just snowed depending on how heavy it was applied. Some test will show a lot of lime is needed. If so best to split into several applications. Horses can graze on a limed paddock.

                                    If there is a good amount of grasses growing in a paddock full of weeds. The best bang for the buck is getting rid of the broad leaf weeds. Especially the very "broad leaf" colonial imported variety of plantains. They put out a prolific amount of seeds, grow well in compacted soil. They are spread easily by horses because the seeds can collect on their feet and deposited around the field/paddock. Native American's referred to them as "white man's foot print". The domestic variety has much narrower leaves, long stalk which contain a much smaller seed head that is easier to control by mowing. The imported seems to be smarter when mowed. It adapts, the seed spike grows much lower and is difficult to mow off without getting really close to the ground.

                                    The broad leaves shade out grasses and inhibits spreading. Suck up moisture also. Plantains are easily taken care of kept at bay with 2-4-D. They are an annual so residual seeds will continue to produce new plants. But once under control they don't require repeated herbicide use.

                                    Buttercups are pretty easy to get rid of with 2-4-D. Yes it is best to address before they go to seed. There a number of varieties, some are annuals and some perennial. It is easy to tell what stage of seed development the plant is in by looking at it.At least with the ones we have around here. Obviously if all or most of the yellow flowers are gone seeds are being produced. When you look at the plant you will see small roundish seed pods mixed with the remaining flowers. If these pods are still young, green and soft, easily crushed good chance if hit with 2-4-D quickly it will kill the plant before the seeds harden and become viable for next season.

                                    Regardless the plant itself does not die after going to seed. It can and does have lots of leaves and can have lots of deep roots sucking up surrounding moisture. So it will and does stunt, make it difficult for the desired grasses to spread. So IMO and experience it is best to get rid of them regardless of the "timing". Mowing will not get it done. At least not in my neck of the woods.

                                    If one does nothing else but getting rid of the board leave weeds in their paddocks they will be surprised how much grass will grow back with nothing else down. Even more so if they can aerate. Small acreage is difficult to keep decent grass with horses on it constantly. IMO dividing a 3 acre paddock in half with step in electric fence is worth the effort. Two weeks on two weeks off, there abouts. Depends on the area and growing conditions, rain fall. Dragging as soon as the horses are moved to the other side to scatter and dry out the manure.

                                    A lot of horses on small acreage, more than 1 per acre makes it pretty much impossible to keep decent grass. Be thankful for what you have.

                                    When it come to fertilizing you can wing it with small acreage like most people do with their lawns without a soil test. Or buy a DIY tester. Pull soil plugs from a number of places around the property mix together in a bag and test it. Or just buy bags of broad spectrum lawn fertilizer and spread the amount recommended on the bags. 3 acres wont take that long using a push spreader.

                                    Too late to plant, over seed grasses for most areas. Depends on one's typical summer climate and seed. Around here I have gotten excellent results seeding in late March early April. Typically around here when spending a lot time and money on seed August is the best month. The grasses will get hardy enough to get through the winter months and really go to work, spread come spring.

                                    There are a number of way to seed. If starting from scratch, killing off what's there and preparing the seed bed most rental yards have PTO driven landscaping machines that can dig up the soil,mulch, drill the seeds in and roll,pack the soil all at the same time. Most are 6 feet wide that I have seen. Aggressive dragging that can dig up the top layer of bare soil works. Broad cast the seed, by hand or push broad caster. Rent a 3 point hitch pto driven broadcaster that holds a couple hundred pounds of seed. Light drag after. But the important step that I have said a number of times is the need to roll the bare ground/dirt tight. Getting good soil/seed contact yields the highest germination results. Do not seed too thick. Grass that is seed to think is subject to die off from crowed conditions that can cause "moisture molds" to develop. Ask me how I know.

                                    So that's the long of it and I am sure I have left out some stuff. At this time of the year but not having the benefit of a personal field inspection. The cheapest and mostly likely biggest bang for your money and effort is getting rid of the weeds. specifically the board leaf. So the grasses won't have to compete with them. Might be, should be pleasantly surprised what your paddocks will look like a month or so from now. But you are a little late to the table. Still IMO well worth the money and effort to see some cards.

                                    Pasture Pro is basically made up of 2-4-D. If you look at the label it is 50% 2-4-D (2 slightly different types) and 50%water. You are paying a lot of money for water and a pretty label with horses on it. Brand X, generic 2-4-D in 2.5 gallon is usually around 80% strength. For about $20 more than a gallon of Pasture Pro.

                                    2-4-D is not very effective on thistle, mature, maturing. Does an OK job when it first starts growing in early spring. It does very little on ivy, poison ivy, milk weed, "woody" stemmed stuff. So-so when used on very young plants. Much more effect on this stuff when mixed with Clarity or Crossbow.

                                    All of the above is based on my experience in my neck of the wood dealing with the weeds and other junk found around here. Feel free to ask any questions. I have found once I got most of the weeds under control I do not have to use herbicides on a regular bases. From time to time every other year, spot spraying etc.

                                    If you buy a 3 point hitch or tow behind sprayer and there are other small horse farms in the area good chance you can make your money back by renting it out. They are not difficult to operate, not a lot of wear and tear, basic parts are generally inexpensive, easy to replace and or repair

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Thanks much, gumtree! I'm not sure how much the previous owners had the horse on the grass...not at all in one field (the fencing is shit, needs to be redone) and I never saw them out on the other. I keep mine in when it's wet, and I also don't turn out in the lower field--just don't trust them to say in it, until we either redo the fence or put up some hot. Over the next few years, we'll expand both fields to take advantage of more acreage. Right now, my horses have limited access to the field and I make very good use of my sacrifice paddock.

                                      Didn't realize I could just get my own soil test kits. Might be the way to go. I like doing stuff like that.

                                      Considering getting everything mowed (the lower field is done, but busted the mower on a rock in the back field, sigh) and then spraying Crossbow. Then start next year in the spring early enough with 2,4-D. Reasonable plan?

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                                        Thanks much, gumtree! I'm not sure how much the previous owners had the horse on the grass...not at all in one field (the fencing is shit, needs to be redone) and I never saw them out on the other. I keep mine in when it's wet, and I also don't turn out in the lower field--just don't trust them to say in it, until we either redo the fence or put up some hot. Over the next few years, we'll expand both fields to take advantage of more acreage. Right now, my horses have limited access to the field and I make very good use of my sacrifice paddock.

                                        Didn't realize I could just get my own soil test kits. Might be the way to go. I like doing stuff like that.

                                        Considering getting everything mowed (the lower field is done, but busted the mower on a rock in the back field, sigh) and then spraying Crossbow. Then start next year in the spring early enough with 2,4-D. Reasonable plan?
                                        Maybe.

                                        First, you NEED the soil test to tell you what you are working with. If your soil is out of the range of effective grass growth it won't matter what you do you'll get poor performance. And if it's out of the range for grass it's likely IN the range for noxious stuff and that's why you are where you are!

                                        Gumtree gave you a pretty fine novel and I'd read it more than once. But the Chapter 1 has to be the soil test.

                                        Chapter 2 is where you decide, based on the test, what you're going plant. Then decide how you're going to do it.

                                        Chapter 3 is elimination of weeds so you can see the ground. Many weed species are very resilient and their seed can persist in the soil for a couple of years. In addition there are seed spreading vectors like hay, deer scat, wind, etc. Think about the long haul, here. This is not a "one and done" process.

                                        Around here people lime mostly in the fall because that's our dry season and you can get a 50,000 pound lime trucks across a field without doing damage. Otherwise you have to use a buggy from the Co-Op and the biggest one our local has is 10,000 pounds (capacity; actual weight is more). If you're applying a couple of tons per acre you see the problem.

                                        Even if you are in suburbia your Extension Service can help you ID the weeds you're dealing with and give you advice on their elimination. Ditto on selection of grass types that will perform well in your climate.

                                        A few minutes spent on planning now can save thousands of dollars in effort and fuel and chemical costs later.

                                        Good luck in your project.

                                        G.
                                        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

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