Low-input pasture renovation

Good grazing management and utilization of low cost amendments can result in economical forage and improved bottom line.

Acreage used for grazing has often been considered less critical than better ground used for grain or other crop production. However, with the current tight hay markets and strong demand for pasture land, see the Michigan State University Extension article, “Michigan pasture rental rates for 2014”, farmers grazing livestock can reduce animal production costs by improving pasture performance. Pasture improvement does not necessarily mean spending money on seed, fuel and lots of fertilizer, and breaking up old sod. There may be local sources of good soil amendments, such as industrial wood ash.  Producers should carefully consider changes in management, including fencing and watering systems, which will result in significant improvements in forage quality and yield over time. A good, basic overview of controlled grazing is found in the Michigan State University Extension bulletin, “Controlled grazing: Balancing forages, livestock and management,” (E2288).

One of the best ways to discover ways to improve your pastureland is to visit farms that have succeeded in doing so. Michigan State University Extension is organizing a forage field day on July 28 in Iron County, Michigan for this purpose.

MSU Extension Forage Field Day
Monday, July 28, 2014 – 5 p.m. central time
Brule River Farm, Jon and Donna Ahlberg
1272 M-73
Iron River, MI 49935


This free, educational on-farm field day program is intended for livestock and forage producers, and others interested in grazing and forage management. Host farmer Jon Ahlberg, Michigan State University Forage Specialist Dr. Kim Cassida and Michigan State University Extension educators will be on-hand to lead discussion, present research-based forage information, and respond to questions.

The program will start at 5 p.m. central time (6 p.m. eastern time) at the Ahlberg farm, located at 1272 M-73, Iron River, MI 49935. Transportation around the farm will be provided by haywagon or bus.

Topics planned for the field day include:

  • Low input pasture renovation
  • Efficient watering systems
  • Rotational grazing
  • Fence line weaning
  • Pasture fencing
  • Use of industrial ash as soil amendment
  • Additional topics will be determined by participant interest

Refreshments will be provided, sponsored by Iron Range Farm Bureau. This program is part of a series of U.P. forage field days supported by a grant from Project GREEEN.


5 p.m. (central time) – Meet at Ahlberg farmstead
     Brule River Farm description and forage/grazing practices – Jon Ahlberg
5:30 – Board haywagon for farm tour
5:30 - 6:45 p.m. – Farm tour
6:45 – Return to farmstead
6:45 – 7:00 p.m. – Comments from Dr. Kim Cassida
7:00 – 7:30 p.m. – Refreshments sponsored by Iron Range Farm Bureau, discussion, wrap-up


Please call Jim Isleib, Michigan State University Extension, at 906-387-2530 to register. Leave a message if calling after office hours. Make sure to mention which field day you will attend. This is needed to arrange for on-farm transportation and refreshments.

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