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The Path To A Better Pasture

Agriculture.com Staff 07/06/2010 @ 5:09pm

When John Schulte purchased an 80-acre farm in 2007 near Marengo, Iowa, which included 32 acres of pasture, his plan seemed simple: Bring the overgrazed and eroded pasture back to life.

"Before I got this place, I'd dealt very little with hills. I have gently rolling ground on my home farm, and my pastures are about as high yielding as a hayfield. It's good ground, and I figured if I could do it up there, I could do it down here," he says.

But after conducting a pasture walk on a blustery April day with Denise Schwab, Iowa State Extension beef field specialist, Schulte quickly came to the realization he had a lot of work ahead of him.

"Water was the first big issue," says Schulte. "It was like going back to school. We went every direction trying to figure out how to water the cows."

"The one thing he told me was he didn't want to run a pipeline," laughs Schwab. But after working through every option, it was the pipeline that won out as the best solution.

Since the property is located in the Price Creek Watershed Project, Schwab visited with the county NRCS office to find out about cost-share options.

Schulte began working with NRCS to receive monetary assistance from the county district and from Price Creek Watershed funds. He estimates his share for the improvements to date are about $145 per acre.

When John Schulte purchased an 80-acre farm in 2007 near Marengo, Iowa, which included 32 acres of pasture, his plan seemed simple: Bring the overgrazed and eroded pasture back to life.

The next hurdle was bringing the overgrazed land back to a healthy feeding ground for his animals.

Eager to get cattle grazing on the pasture within a year of purchasing, the transition period between the interseeding and allowing the ground enough time to heal was difficult.

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