Where can I find information on how to seed a new pasture
on 5 acres of tillable land? It has already been plowed. I
am buying a house and would like to fence and seed this acreage
for my two horses. I have no idea where to start. Is a pasture
mix best? Do I add alfalfa? What is the most rapid-growing
crop? How long before horses could be turned out on the field?
Any advice you could give would be so appreciated.
Thanks for the great question and for reading New Farm. It
sounds like you have things started by plowing the pasture
area in preparation for seeding. The next step will be to
harrow or disk as a secondary tillage activity to smooth out
and level the area. This can be done with any number of harrow
types. Whoever plowed the land would most likely be able to
harrow it as well. Once this is done, seeding can take place.
Not knowing anything about you soil or terrain, I'm going
to suggest you talk to you county extension agent or university
pasture expert to get a better idea on the mix of grasses
and legumes to plant. You should also take a soil sample and
send it to the lab for analysis to determine if any soil amendments
need to be added prior to harrowing. If any are needed, you
can find organic versions of most materials that will be better
for the soil, the crops and your animals. Your extension agent
can help you get your soil sample to the university lab, or
you can use any number of private labs such as A&L or
Now for the tricky part of your question: “How long
before the horses can go onto the pasture?” First I'll
say that the longer you keep them off, the better the pasture
will be for the future. The second suggestion I'll give you
is to temporarily break up the pasture into smaller sub-pastures…at
least in the beginning. Horses have a nasty habit of ripping
pasture plants out rather than biting them off. They also
like to run and will trample young plants into the ground.
By fencing off smaller sections you'll have better control,
and if you must sacrifice one of the plots to spare the others
you can do that. Then, once the other sections have had time
to establish themselves, you can replant the sacrifice lot.
Normally it will take several months before the grasses are
well-enough established to take any horse traffic.
Good luck with the new farm.