Strategies for Efficient Nutrient Management and Forage Selection

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Haybale in field

Haybale in field

Spring has arrived it is time for that lush green grass to start growing in your pastures/fields. Some of you may have already started spreading fertilizer and lime on your fields/pastures. You do not want to over-fertilize your fields as this could lead to nutrient runoff into the streams and nutrient leaching into the soil. The best way to prevent runoff and nutrient leaching is by starting with a soil sample. Soil samples show how much nutrients your plants need. Soil testing can help you save money in the long run by preventing you from overapplying nutrients that you do not need.

Start by thinking ahead as to what grasses you want growing in the summer months for your livestock. Think about incorporating mixtures into your forage production. Incorporating legumes into your mixtures helps to make nitrogen readily available to plants in the soil. Making nitrogen readily available to plants can help cut costs by not having to put as much nitrogen on your fields.

Some examples of great mixtures include:

  • Orchardgrass & Alfalfa
  • Orchardgrass & Red Clover
  • Orchardgrass & Ladino Clover
  • Tall Fescue & Ladino Clover
  • Tall Fescue & Red Clover

Click here to read Pasture and Hay Planting Guide for North Carolina written by NC State University. This publication has seeding rate information, planting depth, and best planting dates for the mountains, piedmont, and coastal plains.

Click here to go to an interactive Website titled Planting Guide for Forage Crops in North Carolina. This website allows you to select the region, month you want to plant, and gives you recommendations based on your selections.

As always, if you have any questions about soil sampling, how to interpret your report, or have questions about forages. Please call the office at (828) 652-8104 and speak with Skyler Murray.