T. Wilson, UF/IFAS Extension, St. Johns County, St. Augustine, FL, M. Wallau, UF/IFAS Forage Extension Specialist, Gainesville, FL, C. L de Souza, UF/IFAS Agronomy, Gainesville, FL, C. Dossin, UF/IFAS Extension, Clay County, Green Cove Springs, FL, P. Fletcher, UF/IFAS Extension, St. Johns County, St. Augustine, FL, A. Blount, UF/IFAS Forage Breeding and Management Specialist, Marianna, FL, C. Mackowiak, UF/IFAS Soil Nutrient Management Specialist, Quincy, FL, C. Bailey, Needmore Land and Cattle Co., Fruit Cove, FL
Situation: Cool-season forages are a useful alternative provide high-nutritive value forage to livestock during the winter months. The establishment phase is key for determining the success of the crop, and productivity is later determined by the fertilization level applied. Our objective was to test different establishment and fertilization strategies for oat and ryegrass pastures in north Florida.
Methods: A 4-acre area was chosen from a farm in St. Johns county. Soil tests were conducted in late October 2019 to evaluate nutrient needs prior to planting, and pasture was closely grazed to reduce competition from existing sod. Staff from UF/IFAS assisted by calibrating equipment, plot design, soil preparation and planting. On November 18, 2019, a combination of Big Boss ryegrass (20%) and Legend 567 oats (80%) were planted by broadcast over-seeding or no-till drill onto either a non-disturbed, lightly disked or roto-till prepared soil resulting in 3 treatments (Non-disturbed, no-tilled drilled, NDNT; Lightly-disked, broadcasted, LDBC; Roto-tilled, broadcasted, RTBC). All treatments were fertilized at both 51 and 91-days after planting with 16-2-8 at 250 lbs. and 500 lbs. respectively.
Results: By visual observation, NDNT provided increased forage volume compared to LDBC or RTBC. This is more than likely due to the lack of good seed soil contact and the perennial pasture not becoming dormant.
Conclusion: Cool-season forages are an effective tool for providing nutrition to livestock during the winter months. However, results may vary due to establishment method, seed to soil contact and pasture dormancy. Research funding for this project was provided by the Hastings Agricultural Extension Center, supported by a grant from the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners. Additional in-kind contributions were made by collaborating partners (Dr. Marcelo Wallau and Clark Bailey) that included the use of land, equipment and labor.