Late seeding improves pastures

Now Media Group


Landowners and farmers in Southwest Wisconsin are reminded that seeding clover in late winter improves pastures for the growing season.

According to Gene Schriefer, Agriculture Agent for University of Wisconsin Extension in Iowa County, 'When the snow is melted but the ground is frozen during late February to early April, freezing and thawing of the soil surface will plant small seeds that are broadcast onto a closely grazed or mowed pasture.'

The reminder is part of the regional Grazing Broker project. Over 200 landowners and livestock producers in nine counties in Southwest Wisconsin are engaged to keep grasslands intact by decoupling land ownership and pasture management through contract grazing.

'Adding clover improves the rental value of pastures because clover's deep roots allow it to grow during the heat and drought of late summer,' said Grazing Broker, Robert Bauer. 'In addition to filling the summer slump in forage production, 5 to 10 pounds of clover seed inoculated with nitrogen-fixing bacteria will eventually capture 20 to 60 pounds of nitrogen per acre. This nitrogen is released slowly to make the grass green and lush and increase its appeal for grazing.'

Livestock producers may face a dilemma between investing in pasture renovation and switching to a class of livestock with market demand but greater nutritional needs.

'Seeding clover can increase pasture yield at a cost ranging from about ten to thirty dollars per ton of additional forage. Over time, managed grazing and fertilizing according to soil test recommendations can shift the pasture species to a higher-energy mix suitable for grass-finishing cattle or growing dairy heifers,' Schriefer said.

Field Day set

A field day is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. March 19, at the Balch Farm, 8712 Brue Rd., Hollandale, WI, to demonstrate clover seeding by broadcast and no-till methods.

Speakers will provide lessons including how to calibrate a no-till drill, balancing clover with animal health, and how pollinators benefit from clover. The workshop is co-sponsored by Southwest Badger RC&D, UW Extension, and Peak Forage Products, LLC.

The cost for the event, lunch, and a one-pound bag of clover seed is $5 per person. The event is open to the public but reservations are requested by calling 608-732-1202 before March 10.

The Grazing Broker connects landowners with livestock producers to keep grasslands intact and increase support for the restoration of additional productive grasslands. The project is supported by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Federation. To sign-up to receive updates on events in the region visit, phone 608-732-1202, or email