A Progress Report on Fall or Spring Management Options for Pastures: Renovate or Rejuvenate?

Funding Received from: Alberta Beef Producers (ABP)

Collaborators: Provincial Grazing Reserve (PGR)/Wanham Grazing Association & Chinook Applied Research Association (CARA), Oyen

Research Coordinator: Akim Omokanye

From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2016 Annual Report


The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of different methods of rejuvenating old forage stands and brush control in comparison with a complete renovation (break and re-seed) as well as to demonstrate practical and low cost options with maximal success. This will be achieved by using the systems approach to analyzing the collected data to enable livestock producers to make better decisions in choosing the proper option(s) that may exist for them to rejuvenate their own forage stands.


With this project, our specific objectives are:

1. To test a variety of methods to rejuvenate the productivity of low producing forage stands and how to improve soil conditions under a grazing system.

2. To examine the effect of herbicide application on brush control in pastures and forage stand rejuvenation.

3. To demonstrate practical and sustainable forage production with minimal costs under farm conditions.

4. To provide a guide for the producer or manager when alternatives to breaking need to be considered.


The project is taking place at two (2) sites, one in the Peace (Provincial Grazing Reserve, Wanham) and the second site is with Chinook Applied Research Association in Oyen.


We are testing the following methods of pasture rejuvenation:

1. Check (control)- grazed or hayed only, no treatment will be imposed

2. Summer rest- one year summer rest, no grazing or haying in 2016

3. Fertility/fertilization- fertilize with dry inorganic fertilizer in spring. Field soil sampling and testing will be done to develop proper fertilizer recommendations

4. Renovation- complete cultivation (plow under/cultivate) & seed in spring

5. Spray Roundup® herbicide in spring and seed

6. Spray Grazon® herbicide in spring and seed

7. Spray field in fall, cultivate & seed in spring

8. Spray field in fall, direct seed in spring

9. Aerate/spike in fall

10. Aerate/spike in spring

11. Broadcast seed & aerate/spike in fall

12. Broadcast seed & aerate/spike in spring

13. Subsoil in the fall to a depth of 9-12”

14. Subsoil in the fall to a depth of 9-12” and seed in the spring

This year, prior to any treatments implementation and for baseline data collection, we did the following in the spring:

1. We took soil samples at random from 0 to 24” soil depths for soil nutrients and quality.

2. We measured soil compaction with a digital penetrometer up to 12” soil depth.

3. We also measured surface soil water infiltration using the ring method in the top 2”.

4. We determined forage yield and quality, and identified the different plant species growing at the site. This helped us to determine plant composition or the proportion of each plant identified at the site.


After the baseline data collection, we marked out the plots. Each plot is about 3 acres in size. Every plot has been well-labelled with plot number, method of pasture rejuvenation being tested and replicate number.

So far, all the proposed treatments were implemented with the exception of complete renovation and subsoiling treatments. Wet weather prevented us from carrying out these operations.


Some Preliminary Observations (Base data) from PGR (Wanham) Site


Infiltration: In the surface soil, the mean infiltration rate was 0.04 inches of water per hour, with a range of 0.02 - 0.07 inches of water per hour.


Compaction: The soil compaction varied from 434 PSI at 1” depth to 754 at 11” depth. The mean compaction from 1-6” was 567 PSI, while compaction from 1-12” was 623 PSI.

Activities for next year (Year 2, 2017):

We will do the subsoiling treatments and complete the tillage & seeding for the “Complete renovation and reseed” treatment. We will collect all the necessary soil and forage data.

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