BLUE CREEK DAIRY FARM

Pasture Seeding

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Let the Great 2014 Seeding Project begin!!!
This fall we decided to do a dormant seeding of grasses and legumes over our cool season pastures, and also try a 1/2 acre test plot of warm season varieties.
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We purchased seed from Rainier in Davenport, WA and L&H Seeds in Spokane. Virginia did a TON of research on different varieties. We currently have smooth brome a cool season (CS henceforth) sod forming grass, and legumes alfalfa (Ladak DL), and red clover. The alfalfa has always been spotty and the red clover heavier in the hay field (north of the driveway). We have been having cheat grass and wormwood issues on our field edges and especially cheat grass up in the woodlot area that was never originally seed drilled with smooth brome. So, we divided our areas up into 1: Early pasture (near barn & woodlot & borders) 2: Hay field 3: Cool Season Pasture (fall/spring) and 4: Warm Season (WS henceforth) pasture (Summer) test plot. We also researched species for a beneficial insect border along the fence/driveway.
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Here are the species for the field plantings:
Seed List

These were the species for the beneficial insect border:
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Our goals overall were to increase diversity and have good competition for undesirable species (cheat grass, wormwood). The WS test plot is to see if we can actually switch between CS and WS pastures through the year. There are many dairies or other farms around the country that plant annual WS forages, but our goal is to see if perennial WS pastures will work. Our CS pastures grow well in the cool, wet spring and again in the fall, but go dormant July-September. There are many ways we can get the most out of our CS pastures during this “summer slump” but we would rather switch over to WS pastures that are growing in the heat, and let the CS pastures rest again until fall. Virginia researched many species and studied soil types, hardiness zones and rainfall maps to come up with our WS mixture. Notice on the hardiness map how Zone 6a (dark green) wraps up behind the Rocky Mountains, so that our farm has the same zone as the middle of Missouri and Kansas.
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Yet the rainfall map shows our area (20” annual) is closer to western Kansas. So, we selected WS pasture species that were native short grass prairie species and threw in purple prairie clover as a legume.
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We are excited to see if this works at all. We mowed and disked and cultipacked the 1/2 acre multiple times, but the plot may fail due to competition from the established CS species. If that is the case, in the future (once we have animals) we would fence off the test plot and let chickens and pigs completely till the area and make a nice seed bed.

Before seeding the woodlot and WS areas we did mow, disk and cultipack the land. Our cultipacker (Pachy for short) was purchased from a good neighbor and includes three sections.
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However, we cultipacked with just the middle section because it was easier to maneuver. Here is the disked woodlot with the cultipacked section on the left. The cultipacker definitely made a difference in forming up a seed bed.
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Stacy also cultipacked these two areas after we broadcast the seed. We are really hoping all this extra work pays off this next year.
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We purchased a Truax Seed Slinger to broadcast the seed. This brand is used a lot for reseeding after fires and working with native seeds. It is very rugged, and built to last. We bought the powered version that is made for mounting on the back of ATVs and using the ATV battery. Stacy mounted it on our farm trailer and used a 12 volt battery.
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Having it mounted on the trailer was very helpful because we could also haul all the seed.
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When we first started the seed came out WAY too fast! Stacy had to judiciously use duct tape to block one of the ports at the bottom of the bin. The electric model’s speed is not adjustable, and so the only way we could come up with slowing down the pouring out of the seed onto the spinning (broadcasting) plate was to block one of the holes.
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Here is a nice shot showing the seed spinning off the plate.
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Virginia broadcasting seed in the CS pasture. Cold that day!
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