Steps to Establish and Maintain Legume Grass Pastures by alicejenny


                                                                                           • Crops
                                                                                           • Soils
                                                                                           • Climate

Steps to Establish and Maintain Legume-Grass Pastures
Lime and Fertilizer                                           sod by shallow plowing or discing on the contour with
                                                              a heavy cut-away or brush disc. Use a tandem disc and
Take soil samples before preparing seedbed, clearing          harrow to finish the seedbed. Apply lime and fertilizer
brush, or filling gullies. Lime and fertilizer according to   before discing or when drilling if a grain drill is used
needs shown by soil test. Apply lime and fertilizer           for planting.
before plowing or heavy discing. Soil pH and fertility
deficiencies may be connected more rapidly with               Species and Variety Selection
application of lime and fertilizers with fall tillage,
although this may not be desirable on steeply sloping         Select species that are suitable for desired yield and
land.                                                         persistence. Iowa State University Extension Publica-
                                                              tion PM 564, Forage Crop Varieties and Seeding Mix-
Seedbed Preparation                                           tures, covers characteristics of many forage legumes
                                                              and grasses used in Iowa.
A seedbed following a row crop may be prepared with
a disc or harrow. When renovating a pasture, destroy          The following mixtures are frequently used in Iowa:

Forage Seed Mixture Recommendations (lbs. per acre)*

For Rotation and Permanent Pastures
Moderately to well-drained soils         Imperfectly drained soils                9. Tall fescue            10-15
 1. Alfalfa              6-8
    Smooth bromegrass 6-8                 4. Red clover              6-8         10. Switchgrass            5-7 PLS
    Orchardgrass         4-6                 Ladino clover             ⁄2
    Tall fescue          6-8                 Orchardgrass            4           11. Smooth bromegrass 10
                                             Tall fescue             6-8             Orchardgrass      4
 2. Alfalfa                6-8
    Timothy                2-4            5. Ladino clover       ⁄2-1            12. Switchgrass            5-7 PLS
    Smooth bromegrass      4-6               Orchardgrass      6-8
    Orchardgrass           3-4               Smooth bromegrass 8-10              13. Big bluestem           10-12 PLS

 3. Smooth bromegrass 15-20               6. Birdsfoot trefoil 5
                                             Smooth bromegrass 6-8                     (continued on next page)
    For 1 and 2, you can substitute          Timothy           3-4
    4 lbs/A red clover for 1⁄2 the                                               *Italics indicate foreign choices to
    alfalfa seeding rate, or 6-8 lbs/A    7. Birdsfoot trefoil       6           complete the mixture. For example,
    red clover in place of alfalfa.          Kentucky bluegrass      4-6         for mixture #1, mix alfalfa with
                                                                                 either smooth bromegrass,
                                          8. Smooth bromegrass 15-20             orchardgrass, or tall fescue.

                                                                                               PM 1008 Revised June 2004
Poorly drained soils                   22. Tall fescue            10-15         Supplemental Pasture
14. Birdsfoot trefoil 5                                                         29. Sudangrass            25-30
    Smooth bromegrass 6                23. Crownvetch        8-10
    Timothy           3-4                  Smooth bromegrass 6-8                30. Oats                  2-3 bu.

15. Alsike clover         2-4          Pasture for Horses1                      31. Hybrid Pearl Millet   30-35
    Ladino clover           ⁄2         24. Alfalfa                6-8
    Reed canarygrass      8                Kentucky bluegrass     2             32. Winter rye            11⁄2 bu.
    Timothy               3-4              Smooth bromegrass      6-8
    Tall fescue           6-8              Orchardgrass           4-5           33. Foxtail/German Millet 20-25

16. Reed canarygrass      10           25. Ladino clover          1/2           34. Forage Rape           4-6
                                           Kentucky bluegrass     3-5               Oats                  1-2 bu.
17. Tall fescue           10-15            Timothy                2-4
                                           Orchardgrass           6              Special care is needed when
18. Ladino clover         1-2              Smooth bromegrass      6             feeding horses. Consider these
    Kentucky bluegrass    6-8                                                   cautions when selecting forage
                                       26. Birdsfoot trefoil      6             mixtures forhorses. Sudangrass,
19. Switchgrass           5-7 PLS          Timothy                3-4           sorghum hybrids. Endophyte
                                                                                fungus-infected tall fescue should
Droughty soils                         Pasture for Hogs                         not be fed to pregnant or gestating
20. Alfalfa               6-8          27. Alfalfa                8             mares. Though not as serious,
    Smooth bromegrass     6-8              Ladino clover          2             alsike clover has caused photosen-
    Orchardgrass          4-6                                                   sitivity and sunburn in horses. And,
    Tall fescue           6-8          28. Forage Rape            4-6           red clover can cause horses to
                                           Oats                   1-2 bu.       salivate excessively.
21. Smooth bromegrass 15-20

Seeding                                                     One to two bushels of oats per acre may be seeded
                                                            with any of the previously listed mixtures as a com-
Seed in one of the following ways on a well-prepared        panion crop with spring seedings. The oats may be
seedbed:                                                    grazed, taken as silage, cut for hay, or harvested as
                                                            grain. In a dry spring, it may be desirable to remove
a. Use a grassland drill with press wheels or a cultipack   the companion crop as early as possible to conserve
roller type seeder designed for small seeded forage         moisture for the new seeding.
legumes and grasses.
                                                            Late summer seedings made between Aug. 15 and
b. Use a grain drill with a grass seed attachment. Pull     Sept. 1 without a companion crop are often successful.
tubes of small seed legume box out of downspouts on         Moisture often is limiting at this time of year but there
the grain drill to prevent small forage seed from being     is less weed competition. Well-established stands can
planted deeper than 3⁄4 inch. Cultipack or roll after       be grazed the following year. Late summer seedings of
seeding.                                                    birdsfoot trefoil may be less successful than spring
c. Broad seed with an endgate seeder. Cultipack or roll
before or after seeding.                                    Weed and Companion Crop Control

All seeding and seedbed firming operations should be        Graze rotationally after oats are 8 inches tall. Do not
on the counter.                                             graze between Sept. 15 and frost to allow recovery and
                                                            build-up of food reserves in the plants.
Caution: Do not disc in seed. Seeds should be no
deeper than 1⁄4 to 3⁄4 inch.                                Mow as often as needed, particularly where brush is a
                                                            problem. Weeds must be kept to a minimum during
Seedings can be made in the spring as soon as a             the seeding year.
suitable seedbed can be prepared. Spring seedings
made after mid-May may not be successful.                   Selective preplant herbicides may be used in place of a
                                                            companion crop. See your county extension education
                                                            director for information on herbicide selection and use.
Be sure to read the label on the container. Use preplant                           Graze rotationally and avoid over-grazing to maintain
herbicides only when seeding pure stands of legumes;                               ground cover and animal grains.
the herbicide will not allow forage grasses to establish.
                                                                                   Remove livestock by Sept. 15, rest pastures 30 days,
The herbicides Butyrac and Butoxone are formulated                                 then graze after a killing frost if desired.
to control broadleaf weeds in a grass, legume, or
mixed grass-legume seeding. The active ingredient is                               Fields may be harvested for hay, but do not cut be-
2,4-DB, a form of 2,4-D which has little or no herbicidal                          tween Sept. 15 and frost.
effect on legumes. These herbicides are most effective
when broadleaf weeds are less than 3 inches tall. The                              Increase Management Level
labels note that treated pastures should not be grazed
or harvested for forage within 60 days after treatment.                            The management level of your livestock program can
These herbicides should not be used on sweet clover                                be increased by following these suggestions:
                                                                                   • Plan efficient forage production and use during the
Management After Establishment                                                     entire year to make your pasture improvement pro-
                                                                                   gram successful.
Clip as often as needed to control weeds, if pastured.
                                                                                   • Increase livestock numbers as forage production
If weeds and brush cannot be controlled effectively                                increases.
with fertilization, grazing and clipping management,
refer to extension publication PM 601a, Weed Control                               • Upgrade livestock quality.
in Small Grains, Pastures, and Legume Forages.

Top-dress with phosphorus and potassium according
to soil test recommendations or refer to extension
publication PM 869, Fertilizing Pastures for mainte-
nance fertilizer rates.

Prepared by S.K. Barnhart, extension agronomist.                                   File: Agronomy 3-3

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