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Kamiah Permaculture Institute
Kamiah Permaculture Institute
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Kamiah, Idaho, US
(208) 935-7793
Climate zone:
Cool Temperate

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Thoughts on Permaculture Pastures-Part I

Project: Kamiah Permaculture Institute

Posted by Julie Pagliaro over 12 years ago

We are exploring options for introducing new grasses and herbal plants into our existing pastures to increase nutritional value to our animals and increase fertility in the soil.

Our 44 acre farm has about 25 acres of pasture and an additional 8 acres that could also be utilized for grazing or hay production. Before we came here, everything but the 8 acre field was overgrazed annually by 25 head of cattle for at least 12 years. The 8 acre field planted in intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) had not been grazed or mowed for at least 6 years until last summer when it was harvested for hay.

We have had to buy hay from other farms in the area to supplement our pasture and as forage for winter feeding and have observed that both cattle and horse prefer hay with a mixture of plants rather than one grass. This makes perfect sense...who would want to eat a salad with only one kind of lettuce or green in it? It would also make sense that a varied diet would provide better nutrition for the animals. The only exception to this is alfalfa (lucerne), our horses, cows, and goats rate this legume number one on their list of favorites, although a diet of only alfalfa is not the best for horses. This is rather amusing when I think of all the horse owners I have known over the years that would pay a premium to get straight Timothy grass or pure alfalfa for their prized equines and would avoid hay with other grasses or plants mixed in it.

In two years time, our larger pastures have been improved greatly by properly timed mowing of unwanted plants, such as, yellow star thistle, canadian thistle and hounds toungue Where there were huge areas covered by these plants they have begun to disappear and a variety of grasses and herbal plants are growing naturally.

Our lower field, however, is still in intermediate wheatgrass and that is what we would like to change first. The first photo below is of this field. It is one of our favorite places on the farm. The other photos are different views of our upper pasture.

Stay tuned for Part II when we share some wisdom learned from reading Newman Turner's "Fertility Pastures" and Joel Salatin's book, "Salad Bar Beef"

Any comments or advice on developing mixed forage in pastures would be very welcome.


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Comments (5)

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Deano Martin
Deano Martin : Hi About three quarters of the way through reading your update I was going to suggest that you read 'Fertility pastures', and then saw, at the end, that you obviously had. If you haven't already read it, 'The herbal handbook for farm and stable' by Juliette de Bairacli Levy, has some good ideas about what herbs to plant in a ley, or hedge. Good luck Deano
Posted over 12 years ago

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Julie Pagliaro
Julie Pagliaro : Thanks Deano! I also have the Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable but have never read it all the way through. I will check it out. I appreciate the suggestion.
Posted over 12 years ago

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Joshua Studd
Joshua Studd : That's a lush looking pasture you have there, even if it does lack diversity!
Posted over 12 years ago

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Nick Ritar
Nick Ritar : Lovely looking land.

We've found that good grazing management, that is time controlled grazing or Holistic Management increases the diversity of pasture much more effectively than trying to plant additional species.

I am always amazed at the longterm viability of the seed in damaged pastures. We have seen pasture species re-emerge after 50 years of cropping after just a few seasons of well managed grazing.
Posted over 12 years ago

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Pedro Franco
Pedro Franco : Beatifull pasture! I can give you some usefull pasture plants here in mediterranean climate Hard seed legume plants:Trifolium subterraneum, ssps. subterraneum, brachycalycinum, yaninicumT. vesiculosum T. michelianum T. hirtumT. cherleri T. resupinatum ssp.resupinatum T. glanduliferum T. spumosum T. istmocarpus T. purpureum, Medicago polymorpha, M. murex, M. sphaerocarpos, M.truncatula, M. rugosa, M. scutellata, M. litoralis, M. tornata, M. doliata Ornithopus compressus Ornithopus sativus Ornithopus pinatus Biserrula pelecinusm Lotus subbiflorus L. ornithopodiodes) ; ii) Anual legume plants without hard seeds T. alexandrinum T. resupinatum ssp. suaveolens T. incarnatum T. squarosum Vicia sativa, V. vilosa, V. benghalensis Lupinus angustifolius, L.luteus),: iii)Permanent legume pasture Hedysarum coronarium Onobrychis vicifolia Lotus corniculatus, L. pedunculatus, L.tenuis Medicago sativa T. fragiferum T. repens T. ambiguum T. pratense); iv)anual poacea Lolium rigidum Avena sativa, A. strigosa Secale cereale Triticum x Secale); v) permanent poecea Lolium perenne L. boucheanum Dactylis glomerata Phalaris aquatica Festuca arundinacea Bromus spp.); vi) Other Plant Species Cychorium intibus Plantago lanceolata Sanguisorba spp
Posted over 12 years ago

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