CropWatch March 10, 2010: Moist Conditions Favorable for Adding Legumes to Pastures
March 10, 2010
Rain covered most of the area last week, melting snow, moistening soil, and creating favorable conditions for seeding legumes into your pastures and hay meadows. In most years, adding legumes can be a little difficult, but the benefits can make it worth it. Legumes can improve animal productivity, increase forage yield, and reduce nitrogen fertilizer expenses.
One of the challenges to successfully adding legumes to grass sod is getting the seed into the soil. Frost seeding by broadcasting seed onto the sod has not been very successful in Nebraska so I recommend using a drill when possible. Finding a suitable no-till drill to cut through the sod often is difficult, however, and regular grain drills often aren’t heavy or strong enough to do the job.
This spring it might be different. The ground is soft and moist and it looks like it may stay that way for a while. A regular grain drill may be able to cut through the soft sod to place seed directly in contact with the moist mineral soil, about ¼ inch deep.
For the best chance of success, plant legumes in the next four weeks and add 20-40 lb of phosphorus per acre to enhance seedling vigor. Adding some phosphorus directly to the seed or banding right above the seed often is best; broadcasting also works well.
Extension Forage Specialist