Pasture School at the Extension Office
On Thursday February 23, the Oneida County Extension office provided an evening of information regarding pasture grazing and how to properly maintain your pastures. The evening started with Reed Findlay, an Extension educator from Bingham County, providing a presentation on choosing pasture grasses to plant based on your property. Differences in warm and cool season grasses were discussed as well as how to match a specific grass to a soil type and/or the amount of water your ground will receive on an annual basis. This presentation was followed by a guest speaker from the USDA Poisonous Plant Research Lab, Dr. Bryan Stegelmeier, who fielded questions from the audience about local poisonous plants and talked about how to go about solving a weed problem on your property. Dr. Stegelmeier proposed involving a team to solve a toxic weed problem including: the person who is always around the livestock animals and know where and what they have been eating, your local veterinarian, the County Extension educator, and a laboratory to test the plants. Proper identification of the plant and a laboratory analysis to determine the amount of toxin in the weeds are crucial to maintaining the safety of rangeland and pastures.
Sawyer Fonnesbeck, Oneida County Extension educator, provided a presentation on irrigation methods and tips. With the current snowpack sitting at 133% of normal, we are keeping our fingers crossed for a better irrigation year than we have had in a while. With this hope, also comes the understanding that we need to use our water resources as best we can. Fonnesbeck spoke on the efficiency differences between flood irrigating and a hand line or pivot system (40 vs 80% efficient respectively) as well as attempting not to irrigate during peak heat times during the day as well as on windy days. He also spoke on the importance of sampling soil and how to estimate soil moisture based on its feel and appearance. Justin Hatch, an Extension educator from Caribou County, spoke on nutrient cycles in pastures and how to effectively manage the nutrition of your pasture. Hatch spoke about how fertilizer can be applied to pasture when needed, but how properly managing the grazing animals can allow the fecal material of these animals to distribute nutrients for us. Cow manure is a great source of nutrients for the soil depending on the time of year, the health of the animal, and the type of forage being grazed. Some research data was also presented which suggested that a little bit of fertilizer applied to a pasture can go a long way. If over applied, fertilizer has the potential to decrease the yields of the grasses.
Wrapping up the evening was David Callister from the Butte county Extension office who spoke on best grazing practices and how putting in a bit more effort with your pasture management and grazing system can aid in increasing the yield and productivity of your pasture ground. Callister talked about stocking rates and revenues of production, what stage of forage production to graze grasses, and various stages of intensity for grazing systems. Overall, this well attended meeting was very educational and provided some great tips for the upcoming grazing season. If you have any questions about the information provided at this meeting or would like to talk to someone about your pasture ground, please contact the Oneida County Extension office at 208-766-2243.