Dale Watson
Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension




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Please send your comments and sund suggestions to Dale Watson, Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 111 N. Mason, Carrollton, MO 64633, call 660-542-1792, or send messages by e-mail to: watsond@missouri.edu.
For the Week of
January 6, 2000

Fertilizer for Pasture and Meadows

Several individuals are requesting information relating to fertilizer application for pastures and meadows. Basically the first step is to get a soil test that is representative from the area being considered for fertilizer application. This information can be obtained basically from two sources. The University of Missouri offers a soil testing service and many dealers also provide this service as a portion of their business.

A very important part of any fertility application for forage production is to know what specie of plants is present in the area being considered for fertility application. Different species of forages remove different amounts of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. For example Cool season grasses remove approximately 50 pounds of N, 24 pounds of P and 100 pounds of K. These amounts are based on the removal of 2.5 tons of forage per acre. A 2-ton forage removal of Red Clover removes only about 20 pounds of P and 80 pounds of K and little or no N. If you are dealing largely with Cool season grasses and this is the type of forage you desire to continue with then the blend of fertilizer will more than likely require a higher level of Nitrogen.

I have been told prices are approximately $.17 per pound for N, $0.21 for P and $0.13 for K. Most distributors I have talked to are quick to hedge on a possible price increase for these products. This makes the application of fertilizer more binding for producers due to the low prices experienced the last 2 years. However, we need to consider the application of some type of fertility, due to the lack of moisture throughout the fall of 1999. Many meadows and pastures were eaten very close to the ground with very little reserve left in the plant. The reduced height of the plants also contributes to the possible increase in soil erosion. We definitely know that near bare ground is much more likely to erode compared to areas that have ground cover with 2 to 4 inches of plant growth.

I urge you to get a soil test, contact your fertilizer distributor, obtain product prices and calculate your fertility needs. In most cases these calculation will range from $20.13 to $28.85 per acre depending on the blend of application applied. The difference in the dollar amount per acre becomes very important when determining fertility needs for forage producing areas.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - January 6, 2000
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT010600.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004