At a recent pasture management workshop the presenters talked about more than just pasture management and controlling weeds; waste management, pond management, growing native grasses and using electric fences were also topic discussed at the recent pasture management 101 workshop in Tonganoxie, Kansas.

The evening started with Gary Kilgore, K-State professor emeritus discussing on how to control weeds in pastures.

“We should start by saying not all weeds are really bad, like ragweed, a lot of animals will eat it and do well on it,” said Kilgore.

“Controlling brush is best done when the plant is small,” claimed Kilgore.

The main objective of brush control is to obtain acceptable population of woody plants on rangeland to increase or maintain an optimum amount of area available for livestock grazing.

The definition of control is something that happens to plant so it does not reproduce.

There are three methods of control for brush.

One method is prescribed burning and is best during late spring, again most effective when the brush or trees are small. A prescribed burn can greatly reduce annual weeds when the burn is conducted after initial emergence of the seedling.

Another method is mechanical, which includes mowing.

The last methods includes chemical. All chemicals must be applied according to the directions on the label. Be sure to read all label information including rate, timing and safety issues, stated Kilgore.

The next issue covered was electric fences. According to Carol Blocksome, K-State Extension agronomist and rangeland specialist, the purposes of electric fences are used to keep animals safe and disturb animals for grazing in certain areas. Electric fences go up fast, however, buy something that is going to last. It is recommended to use a 12 gauge wire, or at least a heavy wire.

A good rule of thumb to remember when using electric fence is the fence height should be about 2/3 of the animal’s body height tall, stated Blocksome.

There are several options when deciding on what to buy when it comes to fence supplies. Steel posts are the cheapest and the strongest; however, aluminum conducts heat better but breaks easy. She remind producers never run electric fencing under power lines, run parallel to the power lines. Also train animals inside a regular fence and normally you will not have a problem. If using electric fences in a narrow area than more wire will be needed.

Mike Epler, Leavenworth County Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent, spoke on the importance of soil testing.

“When determining what your field needs a soil test is the only way to know,” stated Epler.

A good rule of thumb to follow is pull one core per acre or a minimum of 12 to 15 cores in a field to get one sample for a field. Try to get a good representation of the area. Each soil test will tell what is needed on the land.

When planting native grasses remember growth is slow. It normally takes three years to establish a stand adequate for haying or grazing, according to Kilgore. Checking with the NRCS office will provide the best mixture of native grasses in each pasture.

Will Boyer, Douglas County Extension watershed specialist spoke on manure management. Boyer discussed the importance of manure management. Reasons include water quality, neighborly relations, health performance, pests, and nutrient value. Strategies in controlling manure include: feed animals what they need that day and then move feeding areas around, mange the locations of livestock concentration, feeding practices in concentrated areas, protect pastures during wet and muddy times, and hard surface, bare ground feeding locations.

The goal of pasture management is to grow and use green leaves, leaving forage plants in a condition to re-grow, rapidly during the rest period, stated Bill Wood, Douglas County Extension agriculture agent.

“When grazing the rule of thumb to follow is take half and leave half, then rotate the animals off the area,” claimed Wood.

Paddocks can help to allow the necessary rest period for the pasture and help the animals eat the grasses evenly in the pasture. Paddocks can easily be developed with an electric fence.

Dan Lekie, Johnson County Extension agriculture agent, spoke on pond management. When dealing with how to control weeds in ponds it is easier for the Extension agent to know what weeds need to be controlled.

“Rule of thumb in pond management is to remember to treat only 1/3 of the pond at a time,” stated Lekie.

If the pond is stocked with fish it is safe to eat the fish during pond treatment, however, if cattle are using the pond as a source of water read the labels on when it would be safe to consume the cattle, claimed Lekie.

The last speaker of the evening was Jerry Wooley, NPS Coordinator of the Leavenworth County Conservation District. Wooley discussed how each conservation district works and how the district provides money to those who need the help. According to him it is best to apply for the money the first two weeks in July and then the conservation will rank the projects based on need.

The conservation district has a cost share program paying up to 50 percent of the conservation project. However, when it comes to waste management the conservation will pay up to 70 percent of the project. Contact your local conservation district with questions on how much money is available for conservation projects.

Attendees of the pasture management workshop left with a better sense of pasture management and how to make the most of their acreage.

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