Today's post by Farmer John
I've heard raising cattle and other ruminants referred to as "grass farming". Growing good grass should be your focus. The goal is to have the healthiest and most nutritious forage possible. The cattle simply harvest your crop for you. There is a lot to learn about growing healthy stands of grass, but it all starts with the soil. Our soil is nutrient rich, but too little of these nutrients can be used by the grasses because the soil is too acidic in our region. The only reasonable way to correct the acid soil (4.0) to a good pH (6.0) is by adding lime.
We recently enrolled in a lime cost-share program through our local conservation district. They will come to your farm, spread the lime, and pay a 50% reimbursement on the cost. Sounds like a pretty great deal to me.
The first step is taking soil samples from around the pasture to find out the exact soil deficiencies. We sent these samples to WVU and they made recommendations on how much lime to add to the pastures. We had very low pH so they recommended 3 tons per acre.
Next the good folks from the conservation district show up with the lime and equipment to spread it. We had almost 63 tons of lime spread onto our fields. This covered about half of our pasture acreage. We will have the rest of the acreage completed later.
After the lime is spread, it will take about a year for it to settle into the soil and neutralize the acidity. The result will hopefully be more grass growth, bigger gains on the cattle, and more profit from the beef. We hope it all works as planned.