Pasture renovation, conversion field day

Author: Kristy

Renovating pastures one of the best ways to improve forage quality

RED OAK, Iowa — Periodically renovating your pastures can be one of the best ways to improve forage quality, animal performance and grazing management – but it can take time to get the seeding mix just right and see full soil and other improvements.

David and Leslie Carbaugh know this from experience. They operate Noble Pastures near Red Oak and are in the midst of renovating an old pasture, as well as converting a piece of crop ground to pasture. They invite graziers, the public and anyone else curious about this process to join them for a Practical Farmers of Iowa pasture walk and field day they are hosting on Saturday, June 28, from 10 a.m. to noon, near Red Oak.

The event – “Pasture Conversion and Renovation” – is free to attend and will include lunch after the pasture walk. Noble Pastures is located at 2604 D. Ave., about 11 miles southwest of Red Oak. RSVPs are requested for the meal. Please contact Lauren Zastrow at (515) 232-5661 by Wednesday, June 25. The field day is sponsored by Prairie Creek Seed and Iowa Environmental Council.

The day will start with field walks followed by an evaluation of the two pastures. Along with experienced graziers Ron Dunphy and Paul Ackley, the group will evaluate the pastures and discuss possible forage options, fencing ideas and general management.

“Our old pasture has been pasture for four generations, and the new pasture that we’re converting from row crop to pasture we just seeded this spring,” David says. “We’re building a house next spring and the new pasture basically rings around where the home will be, so we’re looking for suggestions and ideas, because there’s old, old fencing around the old pasture and nothing around the new pasture.”

David says one of the challenges to establishing healthy pasture on the row crop ground will be getting rid of any old row crop seeds left in the ground and chemicals used in the field. “We probably have 10 different plants in the mix we planted, and it will be interesting to see if there’s any residual chemicals that might cause some of those plants to not emerge. This pasture is a blank canvas and I can’t wait to see what comes up this year with a season of healing.”

David and his wife Leslie are rebuilding his grandfather’s farm in southwest Iowa, converting land slowly out of crop production into pastures for grazing sheep, poultry and cattle.

Directions from Red Oak: Take Iowa Route 48 south for about 6.5 miles. Turn right (west) onto 270th Street / Coburg Hwy, drive about 4 miles and turn right (north) onto D Avenue. In 1 mile, on the west side of the road, will be a house with a large white corn crib and two metal sheds; this is David’s parents’ house. Continue over the hill to David and Leslie’s acreage (no house yet).

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2014 field day season features 35 field days around Iowa. All field days are open to the public, and most are free to attend. The guide is currently available on Practical Farmers’ website, and will be available in print at the end of May. Contact the office at (515) 232-5661 to request a copy.

Practical Farmers’ 2014 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; BlueStem Organic Feed Mill; Calcium Products; Center for Rural Affairs; Featherman Equipment Company; Gateway Market and Café; Grain Millers, Inc.; Grassland Oregon; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa Farm Service Agency (USDA); Iowa Farmers Union; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; Iowa State University Extension and Outreach; Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (ICASH); ISU Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Klinkenborg Aerial Spraying and Seeding, Inc.; La Cross Seed – Soil First; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Midwest Insurance Corporation; MOSA Organic Certification; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES); National Wildlife Federation; Organic Valley – Organic Prairie – CROPP Cooperative; The Nature Conservancy in Iowa; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; and Welter Seed and Honey Company.

— Practical Farmers of Iowa

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