The most important question when it comes to providing any input to your pasture system, whether that be adding fertilizer and herbicides, or trying to calculate seeding rates to establish new pasture, is “How many acres do I have?”. Often people are mistaken by the total land area they have in production. I see this occur two common ways; generational land that my great, great grandpa told me was 300 acres, or newly acquired farms that the total sum of acres is accurate, but the area in grazable land is a pure estimate. It can be shocking how much grazable pasture is available on a 10-acre farm once a house, yard, barn, tool shed, etc. is accounted for.
As we slide into Summer, warm-season annual forages will be planted for grazing livestock or perhaps as wildlife food plots. Additionally, perennial warm-season forages will be improved this time of year by adding inputs to the land to increase forage yield and quality through the growing season. For example, if you know you want food plots of 1-3 acres or you want to establish 10 acres of pearl millet for grazing your cattle, you will need to determine how much of your land you are preparing and purchasing seed and inputs for. If not, you run the risk of under-estimating the area and buying seed and fertilizer for a 2 acre food plot when in reality it is a 4-acre tract, resulting in an underperforming food plot.
This is a simple fix; we can do some very basic math to determine just how large of an area you own or are using. The first piece of information you must know is that one acre is 43,560 square feet. Using a measuring wheel, you can calculate the length X width of an area and divide that by 43,560 to get total acres.
Length X Width / 43,560 = Acres
Another way to estimate acres within a field is to use this formula: Acres = π r2/ 43,560. Example: 3.14 x 3402/ 43,560 = 8.33 acres.
Now, your local Extension Agent or agriculture service providers can be more helpful when they need to know total acreage to provide accurate recommendations and service. Knowing how large individual paddocks or fields are is important not only for pasture inputs such as herbicides and fertilizers, but to also ensure the area is properly stocked, meaning no more than a certain number of animals are grazing an area to keep the forage in its best condition. If you need help practicing this new skill or applying pasture management practices reach out to your local county Extension Agent for guidance