Spring Pasture Prep!

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Soil Box

How can you get your pastures and fields spring ready?

 With spring quickly approaching, it will soon be time to pull some of our animals off hay and get them back on grass. What are some things that we need to do to get our land ready for this change? 

First things first, we need to pull soil samples and then take inventory of what we have in our pastures and fields and make a plan for 2023!

Let’s start with soil sampling. Why do we pull soil samples? Well, we need to see what our soils are needing to help pastures and fields grow. Each set of grasses needs different nutrients to help it grow. A hayfield may need a little extra nutrients in it since you are simply taking everything out when you make hay, while a pasture has some nutrients put back into it if there’s livestock on it. So how do we take soil samples? Stop by the Agricultural Building and come down to the Extension Offices and pick up a soil box or 5 – however many you may need, and grab the soil probe. For an accurate sample you can pull around 10 plugs from each field to get a good mix of your dirt. When pulling samples, you want to do a sample of each field or pasture that you have just to see what they need- they may all end up being the same. As you’re pulling those samples, you will need to label your boxes with an ID. Label your boxes so that you can remember where the soil came from. When you bring your samples back to our office, we will help you fill out your soil report and farm information so that we can get those samples taken to the NCDA&CS lab. From now until April 1st soil samples are $4 per sample. 

After you get your samples pulled, or while pulling them you can do a pasture inventory. A pasture inventory is just walking your pasture or fields and taking inventory of what grasses or weeds you see and taking note. While you do this pasture inventory you also need to see especially with your pastures what their “condition scores” are. A pasture condition score helps us to determine if pastures are being over grazed, under grazed, or if they are just right. A pasture condition score and inventory can also help us figure out if we have grasses there that we really want. It can show us how many weeds are present in them, and then you can decide from there if you need to just spot spray in the heavily weeded area, or spray the entire field or pasture. A pasture inventory can help you decide if you need to plant any additional grasses along with what stand you already have. If you need help with any weed or plant identification during your pasture inventories, you have several options: come by the Extension and grab one of our range and pasture weed ID guides, check out the app PictureThis plant Id, or stop by NC State Extension’s Forages page for many weed and pasture identification resources. 

After walking your pastures or fields, you can make your plan for this year, and maybe even years to come! You can decide what forages you may want to plant this year, if you need to do any overseeding, or any at all! 

If you have any questions, contact Bailee Perkins, Livestock Agent, at the Extension Office by phone or email at: 336-694-4158 ext. 5 or bailee_perkins@ncsu.edu