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
April 8, 1999

Fertility a Production Consideration

Many producers have been reluctant this year to make fertilizer application to areas to be grazed. This is natural due to the condition of the farm economy. However, observing the pastures as the spring and summer progresses often has an influence on the decision to make fertilizer application.

The first application of any kind that needs consideration is the pH level of the soil. This is true regardless of the forage you plan to establish. Basically for Cool Season Grasses including Tall Fescue and Orchard Grass the pH needs to be in the 5.6 to 7.0 range. Orchard Grass doesn’t require quite as high pH as Tall Fescue.

Legumes require a pH in the range of 6.0 to 7.0. This is especially true for Red Clover and Alfalfa. The Warm Season Grasses require a pH of 5.6 to 6.5. Warm Season Grasses that are in this classification include Switch Grass, Big Bluestem, Indian Grass and Caucasian Bluestem.

Nitrogen requirement varies more than Phosphorus and Potassium between forages. Alfalfa and Red Clover require no nitrogen for maintenance after the initial planting which serves for a starter purpose only. Smooth Bromegrass, Tall Fescue and Orchard Grass require 40 to 45 pounds of Nitrogen for each ton of hay removed. The Warm Season Grasses require less Nitrogen than the Cool Season Grasses. However, their nitrogen requirement of 25 pounds is dependent on the pH level of 5.6 to 6.0 and a 30-pound per acre Phosphorus level.

The phosphorus requirements vary between plant classifications. The Legumes and Cool Season Grasses require between 12.5 and 14.0 pounds of Phosphorus per ton of hay removed. The Warm Season Grasses require 5 pounds of phosphorus per acre for each ton of hay removed.

Potassium is an element that is frequently overlooked. Legumes and the Cool Season Grasses require more potassium than the Warm Season Grasses. Red Clover requires 45 pounds of potassium and Timothy requires 56 pounds for each ton of hay removed. Smooth Bromegrass, Tall Fescue and Orchard Grass require 44 to 55 pounds for each ton of hay removed. The Warm Season Grasses requirement is much less. Potassium requirements for each ton of production is estimated at 12 pounds.

Considering the fertility level and amount of each element required for each ton of hay removed we may need to reevaluate our fertilizer application level for later in the season. It is not uncommon to make split application of fertilizer which can be accomplished later in the growing season and prepare the vegetative growth for fall or winter grazing.


University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - April 8, 1999
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT040899.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004
watsond
@missouri.edu