Kate's Conservation

Conservation Corner
Prince William Soil & Water Conservation District
By Kate Norris

A Timely Tip:
Pasture Management - March 1st- April 15

Early spring (or early fall) is the right time for fertilization and seeding. If you have had your soil tested, follow the fertilizer recommendations provided for the application of any needed nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), or lime.

If you haven't had your soil tested (and you have less than 25% clover in your pasture), apply 50 lbs. N per acre. Pastures with 25% or more clover will not need additional N fertilizer because of the nitrogen-fixing capabilities of clover. Your P and K can be spread later in the season, based on soil test results.

If you plan to overseed a thinning pasture we suggest the following seed mixture for the typical small-acreage, high stocking rate horse pasture:

  • 18 lbs./ acre KY 31 Tall Fescue
  • 3 lbs./acre Bluegrass
  • 2 lbs./acre of White or Ladino Clover - (Red Clover can make horses drool)
Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue is the most aggressive, resilient, drought tolerant forage for our area. If you want to keep your seeding program simple and economical, and you do not have broodmares, you may choose to apply just KY 31 Tall Fescue at the rate of 25 lbs. to 100 lbs. per acre. Remember, that if your fields have become severely overgrazed you'll need to allow 90-120 days for these pastures to rest and re-grow following seeding-before you allow the horses to graze them.

To stay within your farming budget, avoid bagged "pasture mixes." These mixes generally are much more costly because they include such forage species as alfalfa and timothy, which just won't survive in a grazing situation.

For more information on spring seeding, including seeding mixtures for shaded, wet, or broodmare pastures, or hayland, contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District office or email katenorris@pwswcd.org if you need assistance locating the Conservation District office that serves your community.

Kate's Conservation