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Renovating Your Pastures in Season

Most every horse owner knows that if you are renovating your pastures with alfalfa, then fall will be your preferred season. Using a seed drill, you have probably seen many of your neighboring horse aficionados getting their pastures ready during that time.
On the other hand, if you want to add red clover, then you might want to give it a little while longer until the weather has cooled down some more. As a matter of fact, seeding the red clover during the time that frost is threatened will actually help these little plants to grow! The idea behind this methodology is for the alternating freezes and thaws to move the earth in such a manner as to bury the red clover seeds beneath it to ensure maximum germination.
While this sounds like an easy solution, it does require a bit of planning and is not as simple as simply spreading seeds by the handful. The first step in planning any pasture renovation is the soil test. Trying to save time and money in the short run will cost you in the long run, especially when you find that you will have to renovate your pasture again when the next fall season comes around. When taking the soil samples and having the analyzed, you are looking for the amounts of phosphorus and also potassium that are located in the dirt, and you want to make sure they are in balance. Both red clover and also alfalfa require an upper medium to high fertility of the soil in order to survive after germination. Sadly, the biggest mistake horse owners make is to skip the soil test and go straight after only adding phosphorus – after all, every soil could use some. While the latter may be true, the omission of potassium usually results in sickly plants that may wither when unfavorable weather conditions strike.

Quite possibly the reason for this rationalization is the fact that grasses do not necessarily require the same balance of the two compounds as the legumes do. Experts have long advised that over fertilizing a tat or staying on the upper levels of the recommended dosages is a good policy. The goal is to keep the pH level of your pasture over six. If it falls below six the grasses will survive with little problems, but the red clover and the alfalfa will begin to die down. To help your seeds have a good chance at survival early on, you will also want to go ahead and mow the pasture prior to seeding to ensure that there is little competition for the soil and also water between the different plants. While these steps may appear to be labor intensive, consider the fact that – if followed – you will be rewarded with a crop of alfalfa and red clover by the late spring that your horses will love to graze on!

Read the next horse pasture article on Using Herbicides to Stop Pasture Weeds.
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