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Bermuda pasture...what to do

 
Posts: 34
Location: Central Texas
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So if you’ve read any of my recent post or not here’s a bit of extra info. I bought 17 acres covered in cedar trees( and I mean covered lol). I cleared 3-4acres for pasture, 2 for a pond, and have probably 1-1.5 in an established native grasses, and approx 1ac cross fenced that would be generous to call native grasses haha. That field will be lightly disced and planted in a poly mix yet to be determined and the native grass field left to do its thing.

Now comes my issue. The big pasture we picked up a tons of rocks and I hauled in top soil. Around here farm and ranchers plant Bermuda and fertilize it. What did I do? You guessed it. Bermuda. The rains came in floods so I have patches of established grass.

For the fall/ winter I planted a deer mix which is around 15-20 dif grasses legumes etc. Good call heh.

Now I’m left with the decision of what to do now. Bermuda is great pasture....as long as you fertilize :/.

Any suggestions on what to plant in the non established areas? It needs to be perennial. I’m assuming it will be temporary as Bermuda will likely take over at some point cause that’s just what it does.

Then if that happens what are my options for making it thrive without chem.

Any help greatly appreciated. Oh and I’m north central Texas   Just above the hill country.
If any additional info is needed just ask and I’ll gladly relay any pertinent information
.
Please help :)
 
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Posts: 1716
Location: Southeastern U.S. - Zone 7b
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Joe, how's it doing now? It's been a couple months since you posted this, so I'm curious as to where your pasture stands now.

If it was me, I think I'd try to establish the best polyculture I could manage in those non-established areas. Personally, I'm not real keen on bermuda because of it's monoculture tendency, but you're right, it's very popular. One question is, what's available to you? I think bahiagrass and kleingrass are supposed to do well in Texas. For the legumes, what about alfalf and sericea lespedeza? Native grasses are always good.

Does your bermuda overwinter where you are? Or do you plant cool season perennials too?
 
Joe Hallmark
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Location: Central Texas
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Well unfortunately I have nothing good to report. I went with a mix of 5 different grasses. Typically in my area soil temp would be proper for germinating several weeks ago but is just now starting to average around 70defrees.

When it rains...it pours so while I’m starting to see a sprout here and there, 5” in 2 days washed the majority of the seed again.

So the current plan is to see what comes up and scuff the other areas and get one of those giant sprinklers from tractor supply and irrigate it to get it established as best I can.

On a side note fields that were previously established in natives and mostly weed free last year are absolutely covered in thistles :(
 
Joe Hallmark
Posts: 34
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Oh and as far as winter goes currently I just feed hay. My ground is far too rocky to be planting constantly.
 
Joe Hallmark
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Location: Central Texas
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Trying to post this. Let’s see if it works
7B981A7C-BB9A-4218-8AB5-515067F4C9BD.png
Hard land mix
Hard land mix
 
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Location: Officially Zone 7b, according to personal obsevations I live in 7a, SW Tennessee
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I didn't find the post, but there is a permie who saw thistles as a sign of a particular soil deficiency. Once the deficiency is corrected his thistle stopped sprouting. I do not remember the ummm... mineral, other substance? I think it was Travis Johnson if you want to search his old posts.
 
Joe Hallmark
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Location: Central Texas
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Figured it was time for an update. We have experienced rain like I haven’t seen in my area. 90% of topsoil is washed away along with seed (2x). With the last flooding rain I even lost a lot of the subsoil and it is straight rock.

Even in the areas with less slope not a lot of the new grass is coming up very much with is very discouraging considering I doubled or tripled the recommended seed rate hoping to get a thick stand quickly.

On to the thistles. I pulled them up with about 15hrs worth of work. In the non pasture areas I cut them down to remove seed heads and left the root to hopefully help the soil.

I have not been able to get soil samples as of yet but it’s on the agenda when I return from work.

I’m at a loss of what to do in the areas where the subsoil is gone as there’s no dirt to even try to rehab. I make compost but nowhere near the amount to make a dent in a field.

Any suggestions or encouragement most definitely welcome.
 
Leigh Tate
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Location: Southeastern U.S. - Zone 7b
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Joe, thanks for the update. I've experienced this as well and know how discouraging it can be! What my husband and I have been doing, is an idea from cattle grazier Greg Judy. He unrolls round bales of good quality hay and straw on pastures and fields that badly need soil improvement. The first benefit is that it covers the soil immediately and prevents further erosion. The second benefit is that hay and straw quickly decompose into beautifully rich soil. We've seen amazing improvement where we've done this. A bonus benefit is that sometimes the hay contains viable forage seed, so you get pasture growing without additional planting.
 
Joe Hallmark
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Location: Central Texas
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I actually did that in one spot where the erosion wasn’t quite as bad. But that gets expensive pretty quickly. I’ve been looking for some old hay to help minimize the cost but no luck so far
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Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit
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