In order to achieve successful horse pasture management, you must follow many procedures to ensure your pasture is as healthy as possible. Some tactics include maintaining nourishing soil, controlling grazing times, caring for your land, and more. Read on to learn more about how to set up your range for success!
Fertilizing and Liming
Fertilizer and lime are used as nutritional supplements for pasture grasses that nourish your horses! Throughout the natural cycle, plants will draw nutrients out of the soil and create a healthy pasture with a seasonal rest cycle. However, regular usage and nearby changes in the landscape cause a loss of good topsoil, contributing to the need to help the nutritional process. This is why using fertilizers and lime is so essential.
Before adding nutrients to a pasture, it is essential to identify its needs. You can use a simple coring tool to take your samples. Most people fertilize in the spring or fall, but it often depends on the type of weeds that are growing and the grass you would like to grow. The life cycles of each vary. Your local extension office can tell you what time of year is best for the fertilizer you want to use! Be sure your soils are not saturated, and test your samples at the same time every year. Then, your local soil conservation district or agricultural extension office can analyze your models at a meager cost! Based on the results of the soil samples, select a fertilizer to use. Fertilizer should be spread in the year’s fall, as the grass goes dormant. This ensures that the root system strengthens and deepens, making for a better, more durable pasture in the spring. Fertilizer should be applied annually, with the formulation adopted in response to that year’s soil sample.
Testing your Soil
Your local cooperative extension office can test your soil sample for pH and nutrient levels. The soil analysis usually takes a few weeks to process and includes detailed results and suggested revisions depending on your pasture’s location. The soil-testing process can vary depending on what part of the country you live in, but generally, it goes like this:
1. The extension offices may have test kits you can use. If not, use plastic bags.
2. Take soil samples from three or four locations in your pastures. Depth can vary, but dig about 4 inches into the earth and take your samples.
3. Costs vary depending on how many tests you want to do, but it is not prohibitive. The three primary nutrients you want to include in a soil test report are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).
4. You will get back a soil analysis of these nutrients and the pH levels, indicating the acidity in the soil. Seven is neutral; less than seven is acidic.
Control Grazing Time
One of the most important things you can do to maintain your pasture is to understand how much grazing per day a pasture of a particular size can sustain and still maintain at least 70% of its grass cover. Depending on the climate of a specific area, times should be adjusted.
Size of Pasture Hours of Grazing by a Single Horse
0.5 Acre, 3 hours
1.0 Acres, 3 to 8 Hours
1.5 Acres, 8 to 12 Hours
Two or more Acres, Unlimited
Drag it, Air it, and Weed it
Dragging your fields will break up and distribute manure, ensuring a healthier pasture by spreading nutrients in manure piles and encouraging grazing. Regular usage causes soil to become compacted, and aerating the ground will give grass a better chance to grow. It is also important to note that some weeds can create hazards to horses. Your local agricultural extension office can help you determine a cost-effective, horse-friendly strategy for managing weeds in your pastures.
Protect Your Cherished Spots
Many pasture owners have specific, natural areas that they want to keep safe. Integrating them into pasture management strategies is perfect! These areas should be fenced off so no one can enter. Many communities offer financial assistance for safeguarding these areas.
Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines understands that effective pasture management makes good sense for the success of any farm or ranch! We know practical management can double total production, resulting in healthier horses and lowering costs for a farm. A well-managed pasture provides ground cover, prevents soil erosion, and decreases barnyard runoff. Healthy fields provide habitat for not only horses but a wide range of wildlife. Check out Ryerss Farm today!