(Lesson 2. Plant Species Selection continued)
Before ripping up existing pasture or hay ground, consider the potential of the current stand. Evaluation of the current stand is covered in Lesson 1; review as needed. Probably the most common renovation method is seeding legumes into cool season grass stands. This can increase yield and quality, plus stretch the peak production periods into the summer. Improved grazing management can also greatly improve desirable species in a forage stand.
The choice of renovation method will depend on current pasture condition, along with the amount of time and money available for renovation. The choices from most to least aggressive are conventional tillage, reduced tillage, no-till, frost seeding, and livestock seeding, respectively. Generally, as you move from conventional seeding down to livestock seeding, weather becomes more of a factor.
Frost seeding is a “low tech” method that can work well for seeding legumes into existing cool season grass stands if all the conditions are right. A spin spreader is all that is needed. Seed is broadcast on the soil in mid spring when daytime temperatures are above freezing and nighttime temperatures are below freezing. The frost seeding method does not appear to work very well for grasses. See Appendix B for details on how to frost seed and what has to go right for frost seeding to work.