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

Funding Received from: Alberta Beef Producers (ABP)

Collaborators: Wanham Provincial Grazing Reserve, Wanham Grazing Association, and Chinook Applied Research Association (CARA)

Trial Site: Wanham Provincial Grazing Reserve

Research Coordinator: Dr. Akim Omokanye

From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2017 Annual Report


Over time, the productivity and livestock carrying capacity of seeded hay fields and pastures on beef cattle operations may decline. This is largely a result of reduced stand vigor, consequence of drought, pests, weeds, the invasion of unpalatable or less productive species, overgrazing and poor soil fertility. Rejuvenation is a complex and costly challenge for producers. With the high cost and time associated with forage stand termination and re-establishment, farmers are anxious to identify all options for sustaining a forage stand. Local on-farm research is needed to compare all or at least most of the practicable methods of rejuvenation, in order to determine the most effective and profitable methods for producers in comparison to a complete break and reseed scenario. It was thought that comparing a break and reseed scenario to other minimal soil disturbance methods will show the advantages and disadvantages of these practices as well as identify the most cost effective methods/options that may exist for beef cattle producers.


  1. To test a variety of methods for rejuvenating the productivity of low producing forage stands and improving soil conditions under a grazing system.

  2. To examine the effect of herbicide application on brush control in pasture 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.


Site: Provincial Grazing Reserve (PGR) in Wanham (Birch Hills County, Alberta).

Treatments: The following treatments are being examined in 3 replications:

  1. Check

  2. Plow– This was supposed to be break & re-seed, but after plowing in 2016, we couldn’t seed because of the wet soil conditions, which persisted for a long period. We decided to leave it as a Plow only treatment after we noticed the impressive forage growth from the seed bank in the field after plowing. A seed bank is a reserve of dormant seeds in the soil that enables some types of plants to re-establish themselves after a drastic disturbance of the established vegetation.

  3. Fertilizer application (broadcast)- Fertility was 77 lb N + 37 lb P + 0 lb K +13 lb S.