One of my colleagues at the Equine Science Center, Jennifer Weinert, put together some information about pasture renovation and I thought I would share it with you. Who knew keeping pastures in tip-top shape was such hard work?
In northern and temperate regions of the United States such as New Jersey, a mixture of cool-season grass species is typically recommended as pasture forage. In general, cool-season grasses such as timothy, orchardgrass, tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass, and smooth bromegrass are well adapted to survival of cold winters and actually grow most vigorously during cooler periods of the growing season (spring/early summer and fall). Different species of grass do differ in their tolerance to wet/dry conditions, persistence under grazing pressure, and horse preference. By selecting and planting a few of these species in a mixture, you can combine species that complement one another in these areas. A mix containing Kentucky bluegrass, orchardgrass, and tall fescue is often recommended. If you have broodmares, you will want to look for a mix that contains an endophyte-free (or endophyte-friendly) variety of tall fescue.
To obtain the best recommendations for selection of pasture forage species, you would want to have your soil tested for fertility and pH. A soil test helps you determine what fertilizers and other amendments you need to apply to achieve optimal soil characteristics allowing for the best pasture establishment and maximum forage production. Soil characteristics can also be helpful when selecting your grass species.
If you think your pasture needs a facelift or you are interested in more information, you can find Rutgers Fact Sheets addressing pasture forage species selection, pasture establishment, pasture maintenance, and optimization of pasture production. eXtension also offers an on-line Equine Pasture Management Course through their HorseQuest series at a low cost.
I enjoy a nice green pasture, but it sure takes a tremendous amount of work to get your pasture nice and green and keep it that way!
Until next time.