Pasture renovation and grazing management impacts on cool-season grass pastures

Gregory J Cuomo, D. G. Johnson, F. Forcella, M. V. Rudstrom, G. D. Lemme, N. P. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Legumes have been shown to increase production in cool-season grass pastures. However, they are included in relatively few acres of pasture. A split plot experiment with six replications was conducted to evaluate the impact of pasture renovation and grazing management on forage production and species composition of cool-season grass pastures. Grazing management main plots were grazed to leave low (2-4 in.), medium (4-6 in.), or high (6-8 in.) residue levels. Main plots were intensively grazed (50 000-70 000 lb of cows per acre) five or six times per grazing season by lactating Holstein cows. Subplot pasture renovation treatments were (i) an untreated check, or sprayed with glyphosate and interseeded with (ii) alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), (iii) red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) and birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.), or (iv) 'graziers mix' (a mixture of legumes and grasses). Areas that were grazed to leave low residue level produced less forage mass (4.7 ton/acre) than areas grazed to medium (5.4 ton/acre) or high (5.5 ton/acre) residue levels. When averaged across years and grazing management treatments, renovated areas produced 1.8 ton/acre (46%) more forage than the control. Of interseeded species, alfalfa, red clover, and orchardgrass persisted through the study (more than 25% of the dry matter in at least one of the pasture renovation treatments). By June 1998, thistle (Carduus and Cirsium spp.) was present in all treatments. Fewer thistle was present in areas that were grazed to leave low residue (10 sq yd) than high residue (18 sq yd) and in renovated areas (9 sq yd) than the control (22 sq yd). The additional forage produced as a result of pasture renovation cost from $8.07/ton to $12.81/ton. This study indicates that pasture renovation can be a valuable tool for increasing forage production in cool-season grass pastures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)564-569
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Production Agriculture
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999

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