Seeding Cool-Season Perennial Grasses

Cool-season perennials are the primary forage grazed by livestock in Kentucky. Species, such as tall fescue and orchardgrass, will last for many years in a pasture with proper management. Good establishment and management principles must be practiced to allow for establishment of forages within newly renovated fields. Below are tips to help establish cool-season perennials.

Efficient Pasture Utilization

Plants require several minerals and nutrients for growth and production. The three primary nutrients required for plant growth are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Nitrogen (N) is an essential nutrient necessary for photosynthesis, enzymatic reactions, and creating amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Increasing nitrogen in the soil has been proven to greatly increase pasture production. 

Fall Fertilizer Applications

Fertilizer application is often needed for a healthy forage stand. Having a soil test done before applying fertilizer to pastures is strongly encouraged. Apply only what is needed according to the soil test results. The University of Kentucky recommends phosphorus (P) applications starting when the soil test P level drops below 60 lbs/acre and potassium (K) when soil test K drops below 300 lbs/acre. Ideal soil pH levels are dependent on the forage type and usually range between 6.0 and 5.5.