Prince William Soil & Water Conservation District
By Kate Norris
Timely Tips for Winter-wise Farm Management
- Plant winter annual grasses such as Rye or Ryegrass to extend the grazing season (must be planted by November 15th).
- Dedicate one area of your pasture system as your "sacrifice area." Use this area to confine horses when pastures aren't growing, need a rest, or in wet conditions.
- Add all-weather footing to your sacrifice area. Start with a filter fabric and add footing such as bluestone dust or large wood chips.
- Treat other high-traffic areas such as gates, trough sites, and travel lanes with filter fabric and footing.
- Repair or install guttering on barns and run-in sheds. Direct run-off away from high-traffic and manure storage areas and into well vegetated "buffer" areas. "Keep Clean Water Clean"
- Consider replacing the water hydrant in your winter pasture/sacrifice area with an automatic freeze-proof trough.
- Stop spreading manure. Stockpile manure December through February. Manure spread when the ground is frozen or saturated won't be utilized and may run off. Save manure for application when plants are actively growing and apply according to a nutrient management plan.
- Get a jump on spring pasture management. Take soil samples now and arrange for application of any needed lime during the farm service business' slow season. Plan for spring application of any other nutrients.
Contact your local Conservation District if you'd like more information on implementing any of the above suggestions. Conservation Specialists are also available if you'd like to schedule a site visit to your farm for more personalized recommendations.