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Five tips for better grass

Agriculture.com Staff 01/13/2009 @ 7:56am

Improving pasture management is the best way to increase the beef productivity, says Troy Salzer, Barnum, Minnesota. He grazes 70 cow-calf pairs and 60 stockers on 220 acres of grassland. He supplements the grass with a two-month period of grazing standing corn in the fall.

Salzer's pasture-management strategy focuses on forage mix, fertilization, and rotationally grazing livestock through 27 paddocks. He has learned that fertilizer doesn't help some forages, such as bluegrass pastures. But nitrogen and potassium help greatly when applied to pastures including alfalfa, orchardgrass, and reed canarygrass.

On the straight bluegrass fields, stocking rate is the equivalent of a quarter of a cow-calf pair per acre. "On other acres that have 25% alfalfa along with the bluegrass, we get a half cow-calf pair per acre," he says. "On alfalfa-reed canarygrass mixes we get 1 to 1.1 pair per acre."

Historically, Salzer has soil-tested every three years, but he now plans to test annually to avoid the risk of overfertilizing. "Through their urine and manure, cattle recycle 60% to 70% of what they consume," he says.

As a rule of thumb, he makes sure phosphorus and potassium are adequate, and he applies nitrogen sparingly because of his porous soils.

Improving pasture management is the best way to increase the beef productivity, says Troy Salzer, Barnum, Minnesota. He grazes 70 cow-calf pairs and 60 stockers on 220 acres of grassland. He supplements the grass with a two-month period of grazing standing corn in the fall.

Salzer says that fine-tuning pasture fertility is a multipronged process. Here are five tips.

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