Get a jump start on 2013 horse pastures – Step 2: Apply recommended nutrients

Preparing your horse pasture for the winter will maximize your pasture's output for the spring.

If you want to increase your pasture’s productivity next year, you need to prepare your pasture for the winter this fall. Follow these three steps to maximize your pasture’s nutritional value for next spring:

1) Test your soil’s nutrient content

2) Apply recommended nutrients or lime based on the soil analysis report

3) Rest your pastures

Step 2: Apply recommended nutrients

Pastures, whether you are feeding livestock or harvesting hay, will need nutrients over time. Even if you have spread manure or compost on your field, the nutrients in a commercial fertilizer are more available.

A field with more legume type forages (like clover or alfalfa) have a lower need for nitrogen. Legumes fix nitrogen back into the soil. That is one of the reasons you will often see clover in a pasture mix. However, a lot of horse owners don’t like clover in their fields.

Krishona Martison on clover in horse pastures:


N, P & K

While being the most expensive nutrient, Nitrogen (N) will help drought stressed plants take-up more nutrients through their roots to prepare for winter. You should notice that your grass stands thicken up after fertilizing with the recommended nitrogen. Additional phosphorus (P) and/or potassium (K) may also be needed to help prepare the plants for winter and ensure the nitrogen is being utilized successfully. Talk to your county extension agent or CO-OP about the best way to apply your fertilizer. Often, splitting the recommended fertilizer into 2 or even 3 applications will benefit your pasture more in the long run.

Soil pH

Fall is a great time to add lime to the soil. The soil’s pH should range from 6.0 – 6.5. If the soil is too acidic (below a pH of 5.5), plant productivity will be negatively affected. Farm grade lime is relatively inexpensive when compared to nitrogen fertilizer so it makes sense to apply it if you need it. Lime is non-toxic to horses, so even if you are spreading lime on a pasture that is being grazed, you won’t need to remove your livestock.

Finish the "Jump start on horse pastures" series:

Get a jump start on 2013 horse pastures – Step 1: Get soil tested

Get a jump start on 2013 horse pastures – Step 3: Rest the field

Did you find this article useful?