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Author Topic: Pasture Restoration  (Read 4398 times)
Stingtarget
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« on: November 26, 2007, 06:55:56 PM »

Hello all,

Just purchased 36 acres of land that was once pasture...ten or twelve years ago.  It is now sparsely covered in cedar trees ranging from 12" to 3 feet tall.  The rest is every manner of weed.  I began some tractor work and bush hogging 6 or 8 acres.  Unbelievably, there is some green grass underneath all the weeds.  Here's my question.....

Am I distributing the weed seed while cutting everything back down to normal pasture / grazing height?  Seems the "dandelion" style seed head on the weeds that are waist tall like to clog up the radiator on the tractor.  I had to keep stopping and cleaning the grill off so the radiator would cool.  We plan to have cows, horses by mid summer next year.  I cannot afford to reseed and fertilize the entire 36 acres as our finances will renovate the farm house, barn, and fencing.  Reseeding will also require at least 2 diskings and observing from other pastures nearby there are millions of pancake size rocks that I don't want to bring to the surface.  What good is disking if it only leaves me with rocks to replant new seed on?

This is the first time I have been faced with the task of reclaiming an abandoned pasture.  My thought is to cut down the weeds and trees and let the green grass underneath grow.  It would be less expensive to go this route and then in late spring spray a broadleaf specific herbicide on the acreage.  $750.00 for herbicide is a lot cheaper than the $144.00 per acre I'd incur in seed, fertilizer, drill rental, etc.  36 acres x $144 is $5184.00.  The $144 per acre is the material estimate provided by the farmers co-op. 

Anyone been on this journey before me??
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kathyp
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« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2007, 07:38:41 PM »

i have done this!  first, i wouldn't disk.  i would cut things down with a bush hog.  then i'd break the surface with the 'tiller.  this is less disruptive to the grass root than disking and will keep you from having to re-seed.  then i'd spray with Weed Master.  if your winters are at all mild, or you have a lot of weeds still growing, do it now and again in the spring.  i usually do it in may.  weed master is the best pasture spray.  withdrawl time is 0 days, but i usually keep livestock off for a few days.  it's 2oz per gallon.  you should be able to do the whole place with about 150 gallons. then get some good pature mix and overseed the thin spots.  you can do it now or very early in the spring.  try to keep your livestock off those spots for a season.

if you don't want those trees, you can brush hog them out.  it's fun.  if you do want them, you'll have to protect them with some fencing.  cows are bad on trees and horses can be also.

« Last Edit: November 26, 2007, 09:48:07 PM by kathyp » Logged

.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2007, 09:08:36 PM »

Not sure how this would work where you are but here I had a similar situation but with pine trees and a couple hundred acres to do. I found bushoging was not as cheap as burning the land off. It leaves nutrients and is very easy to broadcast seed with minimum soil disturbace. Also check into no till farming methods.
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BenC
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« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2007, 10:08:32 PM »

Yes, you are disturbing/distributing weed seed if you bush-hog.  After 10-12 years of neglect, however, it shouldn't make any difference in weed pressure, your ground will be full of seeds biding their time, waiting to erupt.  Most weed seeds use sunlight as a trigger to germinate, they can lay dormant for 10+years until stirred up and exposed to light, then they begin to grow.  My recommendation is to divide the 36 into six, 6 acre paddocks, bush-hog them all now, but fight and conquer each one individually.  You will need 2-4D, fertilizer, and time.  Using this plan of attack, you can do it right (at least my opinion of what that is) and bush-hog or burn, disk, harrow, reseed, fertilize and drag each sub-plot individually as funds allow.  Once 2 paddocks are well established get a couple steers.  I don't believe trying to salvage the old grass, whatever that is, is a good idea.  You have no idea what it's nutritional value is, or how it will stand up to traffic or grazing.  It's a safe bet it won't choke out weeds, look at the state of the field now.  I don't see a need for a seed-drill, I've seeded many fields with a broadcast spreader (3pt hitch inverted cone) followed by a drag or harrow.  I'd be waiting until spring 2009 to put any animals on that ground.  I've never been on the same journey your asking about, but I'm an ex-orchardist and this is the approach I would take if I were to plan on establishing a new field of trees or tame ground for a blueberry patch.  Good luck,

Ben
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Stingtarget
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« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2007, 09:42:10 AM »

Thanks all for the input.  Seems I am on the right track.  I do want to leave a few patches of cedar trees which I have creatively cut around.  Since we are relocating to Tennessee in June I have no choice but to turn our horses out onto the pasture at that time.  I will paddock them to prevent them from overgrazing on the grass.  Cattle can wait a year or so.

I thought about asking the forestry service if they could prescribe burn my pature.  Forestry service in Georgia helped some friends of mine this way.  My friends were responsible for the firebreaks and the forestry service provided some sort of propane burners to get the  grass burning and supervision.

Due to the severe drought I don't even want to ask.  Disking is out due to the rocks below the surface.  In the past, I've both broadcast and drilled and have found that drilling (in my opinion) had better germination results.  Maybe it was better weather, I don't know. 

Seems the next logical step would be to invite the County Extension agent over for lunch after the cutting is done.  He should be able to tell me what kind of grass I have, take some soil samples and provide a recommendation.

Good point Ben....there is really nothing I can do to cause more weeds to grow. rolleyes

For me....I don't count the cost in bush hogging.  I find it a relaxing break from the cell phone.  Any kind of tractor work sure beats the office any day.

Despite all the work, I can't help but be excited.  I took some before pictures and the entire place looks a ton better with the little bit of cutting I have done.  I'm sure the neighbors appreciate my removing the eyesore.
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kathyp
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« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2007, 10:03:52 AM »

keep us posted on the adventure.  sounds like you already have horses.  don't know if you have dealt with horses and pasture.  you'll want to cross fence that place anyway. you don't want your horses on that much grass all the time.  + the cows tend to really trash pastures.  i fence about 1 acre per 3 horses and rotate them through.  even so, i have rich pasture and have to be careful in the spring and fall.  you could use only a small portion of your land for the horses and the balance for the cattle.  when you get ready to cross fence, write back if you need ideas.  it can be done with little expense (relatively) smiley
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2007, 09:37:39 AM »

Stingtarget.  Wow, you have alot of work ahead of you to do, it will take time, but you can bet your bottom dollar, one day, you will have one beautiful piece of property.

I think that taking small plots at a time is an excellent idea.

We live on 5 acres.  The easter 2 acres are totally cleared and this is where we live with gardens galore, 17 years that we have been here, cultivating, beautifying.  It was a total mess and horribly and poorly taken care of when we moved it, now it is like a park.  The back 3 acres was bush.  We live in a rain forest and it was just undergrowth and trees, very dense.  The horses had made trails throughout, which made it very cool for walks.

The year before last we had this back 3 acres cleared completely, leaving small grove of coniferous trees and it has become very beautiful.  It has not been seeded or anything, just the weeds and all to grow.  I just have not had the time to work any deeper back there.  But it is still pretty.

This spring my Son-in-Law, along with my Husband will do alot of work pulling a rig that they made for catching debris and rocks.  We will work hard to really get the land cleared, the little cottonwood and alders have begun to grow back, so they need to be removed before they are big trees again.  It is my intention to have this set with grass seed and clovers, it will be done, but it takes time.

So, I could not imagine even in my wildest dreams what you have ahead of you, but I wish you well.  Look at the big picture, a little bit at a time, and you will get their, your dream will be achieved.  Yea!!!!  Have a beautiful and wonderful day, love our life we live.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
Stingtarget
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« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2007, 03:39:03 PM »

Thanks all for the advice.  I will keep you posted and maybe take some pictures next time we're there.

Cindi - Didn't you post pictures of your "clean up" in the bee forum last year.  I think I remember.
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JP
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« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2007, 11:41:05 PM »

Hey sting, good luck with your project. If it were me I wouldn't cut a single cedar, I think they are beautiful trees evergreens yr round, can't beat 'em.
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Angi_H
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« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2007, 12:14:57 AM »

Been there done that. we had 80 acres to deal with . We split it into 20 acre plots and we bush hogged all of the weeds down and then irrigated to get some water on what ever grass was out there, Mainly bermuda and crab grasses. It is a good cattle and horse pasture. Then after 2 waterings we let it dry a bit and turned the horses and cattle out on it. They were allready used to pasture only raising with no hay and they did well on it. While the horses were on one plot we did the other 3 and would keep cutting down what weeds the horses and cattle left behind before we  irrigated again. We moved them from one pen to another and with having 4 we had pleanty of grow time between movings and had plenaty of feed. And by then the gras had moved and filled in all of the bare spots. When a pasture goes dorment from being unused it is still there all it needs is to be cut down and watered several times to let is become re established and all will be well. You would be surprized on how fast you can get the pasture up and going again in the spring. With really little work besides cross fencing and moving them from spot to spot and watering. It will do fine. We never sprayed the pasture and we always bush hogged before irrigation and never had a problem. They wont eat everything and you have to keep it the same level. And bush hogging will level out the manure piles. I grew up on a ranch and this is something I was in charge of. That and all of the animals and vet care and training the horses.

Angi
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Cindi
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« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2007, 08:30:37 AM »

Stingtarget, you have an excellent memory, looks like it is better than mine.  I have posted so many pictures on this forum, I probably did post one of the land clearing, I don't recall it though and to look back through my posts would be a huge undertaking, so I will take your word for it,  Wink Smiley Smiley.  We left all the smaller coniferous trees to make small groves to keep it nice.  I didn't want the land to be stark naked, void of trees.  The evergreen trees are a marvel of nature and make the landscape lovely, these small ones stayed.  The older ones that took up too much room were logged to help pay for the landscaping.  It is very nice back there.  Good luck, and have a great and wonderful day, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2007, 10:03:21 PM »

Pictures taken this weekend showing some progress....



The following picture shows the lower pasture after cutting and more cedar trees going up the hill.



Cedar trees get larger the further uphill I go.  Will probably need a dozer with a root rake on the blade to take them out.  Much too large for bush hog.  Don't want to chainsaw and leave stumps either.  I may end up pushing these up and into a pile for burning.

I've never posted pictures so I hope this works.  If it does, I may post one more.  They take a while to upload.

Good night all.
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Stingtarget
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« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2007, 10:12:37 PM »

I'd guess I have cleared 10-12 acres so far.  Seems like I am about a third of the way.  Maybe a little less.

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Stingtarget
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« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2007, 10:17:09 PM »

Not too bad for an abandoned farm.  I'll need to take down some of the older buildings that have already collapsed.  The barn will be dismantled and reconstructed as a single level barn using the orignial wood.  It needs to be moved 50 feet or so.

Clarification.  The pretty green hill on the other side of the road is not ours.
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« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2007, 07:23:39 AM »

Very nice - lots of work, but worth it in the end!  Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2007, 09:52:31 AM »

Stingtarget. I can't believe how much work you have done, and your pictures were great.  Exhausting work this land clearing, good for you.  Have a wonderful and great day, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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