Preparing CRP For Pasture And Hay Use

Preparing CRP For Pasture And Hay Use

April 10, 2009

Has your CRP contract expired or will it soon expire? If you plan to transition your CRP to pasture or hay, you need to take some steps now to ensure it meets grower needs.

You'll need to:

  • remove old litter,
  • thicken stands, and
  • develop water and fencing.

The fastest and most effective way to remove dead litter and thicken grass stands is with prescribed burning in the spring. Obviously, only use fire where it can be handled safely and legally, and where it won't cause other potential problems like wind erosion. Local extension and NRCS offices can provide further information and assistance regarding this option.
Another way to reduce dead litter is by haying. This can be challenging if the terrain is rough, the amount of dead growth is great, or if pocket gophers have built numerous mounds that plug equipment. Hay removed with much litter will have low forage quality and require protein and energy when fed to livestock.
A better technique might be "flog grazing". Flog grazing involves placing a large number of cows on a small area for a brief time, usually one to seven days. With high stock density, animals
trample dead litter into the ground and open the soil for new seedlings and tillers. You can get a similar result by using your CRP as a calving pasture. You'll get trampling, nutrient recycling, and excellent bedding all at the same time.

Bruce Anderson
Extension Forage Specialist