Pasture Management: How To Plan And Implement It Effectively (2023)

Pasture management is key to grazing because livestock productivity during the season depends on pasture efficiency. It depends on many factors: quality and quantity of forage, grazing, natural conditions, etc. Competent pasture management systems help to optimize the complex process. In this article, we explain what this practice means, what characteristics it has to offer, and how to make it as effective as possible.

What Is Pasture Management?

Pasture management is a practice for profitable livestock production providing the animals with forage grasses and legumes and keeping the soil healthy. It defines strategies to improve grass health and forage production, maintain a healthy ecosystem, and reduce production costs. Success depends on knowing how all the elements are interconnected. For example, cattle grazing in pasture affects the growth of grass, which in turn affects the number of weeds. Water flow for farm production affects the environment and animal health. Thus, pasture improvement depends on the effective control of each aspect.

Why Is Pasture Management Important?

The importance of pasture management is that it improves the health and sustainability of the ecosystem. At the same time, a poorly organized system causes weed invasions, slows the recovery of forage grass, and reduces quality. Pasture renewal may solve these problems temporarily, but for the long-term development of the farm, it is much more effective to optimize grassland management practices.

Well-managed grasslands are the key to maintaining long-term livestock productivity.

How To Benefit From Pasture Management

A sound strategy ensures better farm profitability, ecosystem, and animal health. Here are just several advantages of well-organized pasture maintenance:

  • reduced weeds;
  • enhanced soil drainage;
  • improved water quality;
  • good distribution of nutrients (manure);
  • decreasing the use of supplementary nutrition (silage and hay).

Overall, pasture care and maintenance are very beneficial economically. This practice reduces labor costs, strengthens the soil tilth, reduces erosion risk, and gives an economical feed source. Moreover, grazing provides the physical exercise necessary for the animals’ health.

At the same time, pasture management should be a permanent process. It is the only way farmers can maintain the area’s optimal condition. For example, there is always the risk of overdevelopment of forage grass. Consequently, grazings accumulate too much water, which reduces the amount of fiber and deteriorates the quality of livestock nutrition. Grassland maintenance implies regular monitoring and timely eradication of noxious plants, as well as forecasting weather changes to avoid negative consequences. The problems of pasture management contain the complexity of organizing the process: it requires careful planning, usually a year in advanceDiscuss the advantages and disadvantages of pasture establishment. Oregon State University. However, such a system’s advantages are indeed more significant.

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Pasture Management Plan Importance

A grazing plan is the first you need to establish pasture care management. It identifies solidities and frailties in the system so adjustments can be made in time. Furthermore, with a good plan, farmers can better use limited resources, primarily forage grass. The results of the implemented plan allow them to think about the following year’s strategy.

A pasture management plan requires mapping software. Farmers draw the field’s borders to be grazed on it. Such a map allows for better monitoring of grassland conditions and adjusting activities to changing conditions. When mapping, it is necessary to divide the area into a land that is owned and leased, for which not all pasture management methods are suitable. It is also essential to determine acres in use. These steps will allow you to detect the presence of additional lots for grazing, for example, by converting arable land to pasture.

Pasture Management By Season

Grassland control should vary according to the seasons, ensuring optimal forage quality. Each season offers unique opportunities for grassland improvement.

Winter Grassland Managing

Winter is the soundest time to create a cattle grazing management plan. With the help of a farm map, owners can calculate the price of the coming season’s activities and design grasslands.

(Video) NRCS: Pasture Management

Grazing at this time of year is dangerous, as animals can destroy perennial plants and damage soil cover, which will slow the spring recovery of the area. The best option is to designate a separate winter grazing area. Also, manure treatment should be avoided, as there are simply no plants that absorb nutrients during this period. All this again proves that cattle pasture improvement measures should be carried out throughout the year, including winter.

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Spring Pasture Management

At first glance, pastures recovering from the spring rains seem suitable for grazing, but they are not. The land still needs time, so continue feeding hay to cattle if possible and conduct the following pasture management preventative measures.

Check Soil Fertility

Spring and fall analysis of soil fertility allows you to determine the best solutions for fertilizing. Comparing the results of monitoring both periods is incredibly effective.

Soil Nutrient Control

The most critical farm pasture management step is pH control. It ensures the stable growth of forage grasses and clover, alfalfa, and other legumes. You can also apply lime: this is usually done in the fall, but the period of this practice can vary depending on weather conditions.

Weed Control And Forage Managing

Spring is a time for many weeds to emerge. So it is essential to identify and kill them in time. Note that some weeds are more effectively sprayed. In this case, choose herbicides for pasture weed control with special care. Such chemicals may include restrictions on grazing and reseeding.

Grazing Management

Grassland productivity is highly dependent on the quality of animal grazing. The optimum height allows the plants to compete with weeds and stay healthy in the summertime. Also, with spring grazing management, farmers can distribute manure evenly over the entire area, controlling grazing.

How tall should the grass be at the start of grazing?

The best time to start grazing is when the grasses reach 8 to 10 inches. When their height is down to 4 inches, cattle should be moved to another location.

Summer Pasture Management

Summer is an excellent time to analyze grazing conditions. Nitrogen fertilizer can be added as needed to encourage plant growth. The key is to control the amount of such fertilizer according to rainfall. If you did not add lime and other substances in the spring, you could also do this in the summer. At this time of year, it is almost impossible to fight weeds: the only way is to mow them. However, you can analyze them to take action next season, including thinking about herbicide pasture management.

Fall Pasture Management

Weed pressure is reduced in early fall, so autumn grassland management is appropriate for overseeding cold-season grasses. In September, they can be treated with nitrogen (about 40-50) for better growth. Most importantly, make sure the chemicals are washed away by the rain before releasing the animals to feed.

Pasture Management Practices

There are various grazing strategies, each with benefits and drawbacks. For example, it can be the continuous use of a particular area for an extended period. In this case, there is a risk of undergrazing or overgrazing. In turn, a rotational pasture management system using rotation (first of all intensive) on small plots allows plants to recover, prolonging the grazing season. Let’s take a closer look at each example.

(Video) Intro to Small Ruminant Pasture Management

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Continuous Grazing

This system involves the use of one field for an entire season. The main advantage of this pasture grazing management is the ease of managing and minimization of overhead costs. At the same time, this system does not ensure optimal use of grazing and manure distribution. Also, the forage quality decreases because farmers have no control over which plants the animals consume.

Rotational Grazing

The rotational pasture management strategy uses several fields for grazing livestock. Its main advantage is the ability to increase the production of forage vegetation and extend the grazing season. Farmers can also distribute manure over the entire area by moving the animals. At the same time, rotational grazing management requires additional costs, for example, fencing.

Intensive Rotational Grazing

With this system, farmers break up the field into multiple paddocks. In addition to the previous model’s benefits, it dramatically lowers the need for mechanical forage harvesting. Moreover, this system provides the highest production among all types of pasture management because the animals consume much more feed per acre. However, this system requires detailed monitoring and more costs at the beginning. Still, this model offers the most benefits in the long term.

EOSDA Crop Monitoring

Using satellite monitoring for remote fields management in one platform!

Pasture Management Using Satellite Remote Sensing

Satellite technology can significantly facilitate the control of areas, first of all, huge ones. With the EOSDA Crop Monitoring online platform, farm holders can monitor grazing conditions and plan activities based on satellite image data. Also, this pasture management software comes in handy for agricultural consultants, who can make recommendations to their clients using satellite monitoring information to control the efficiency of their products. And finally, EOSDA Crop Monitoring is also suitable for governmental agricultural research.

(Video) Small Pasture Management cc

Vegetation Indexes Monitoring For Grazing

One of the features of EOSDA Crop Monitoring, which is very useful for pasture management, is vegetation index maps. Using data from NDVI, NDRE, and other indices, farmers can determine the optimum vegetation level for rotational grazing. It allows you to optimize rotational grazing, first of all, intensive grazing.

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This software for pasture management can also create vegetation maps based on MSAVI for grassland control. It is the most appropriate index for detecting bare soil, which is especially useful for monitoring cattle trampling.

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Weather Monitoring For Pasture Management

The most critical factor for effective grass pasture management is the weather. Satellite-based monitoring of weather helps reduce the entire operation’s risks. With EOSDA Crop Monitoring, you can:

  • monitor current temperature and rainfall;
  • detect weather trends based on historical data (EOSDA Crop Monitoring database contains information from 2008 onwards);
  • plan the long-term development of the grazing.

Additionally, users of our pasture management app get a 14-day weather forecast for the region and automatic notifications of dangerous temperature changes.

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Control Of Large Grazing Territories

Monitoring large areas is incredibly challenging. It usually requires scouts, which entails additional financial costs. EOSDA Crop Monitoring optimizes this process by reducing the workload of scouts. As part of pasture management, you can use the Field Leaderboard feature to sort fields by the following criteria:

  • vegetation level;
  • types of crops planted;
  • grassland size;
  • custom conditions.

Also, with the NDVI pasture management tool, EOSDA Crop Monitoring timely identifies and reports critical vegetation decline.

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Time-Effective Scouting

As mentioned above, using EOSDA Crop Monitoring as pasture management software, you can optimize the work of scouts. So, the Scouting tool allows you to assign tasks to specific field areas. It saves time and resources for analytical work. Scouts can also supplement their reports with photos from the pasture lands. Based on the data obtained, farmers can, for example, draw up an effective plan for herbicide treatment of the area.

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So, by using EOSDA Crop Monitoring tools for pasture management, it’s possible to increase the efficiency of the entire production process significantly.

Sustainable Grassland Management

In pasture management, it is vital to maintain the ecosystem’s health. A competent system increases plant productivity and diversity and improves water and air quality. These measures positively affect soil health: the risk of erosion is reduced, and more nutrients are supplied to the soil. Proper pasture management for cattle promotes an even distribution of animal manure, giving an additional flow of nutrients that can be used several times during the season.

Thus, pasture management increases plant productivity, promotes animal health, and improves farm profitability. Pasture management apps like EOSDA Crop Monitoring can optimize this process to achieve even better results.

Article tags:

  • Agriculture
  • EOSDA Crop Monitoring
(Video) Webinar: Grazing & Pasture Management in Pennsylvania, Available Resources for Good Practices

Pasture Management: How To Plan And Implement It Effectively (11)

Vasyl Cherlinka

Scientist at EOS Data Analytics

Vasyl Cherlinka has over 30 years of experience in agronomy and pedology (soil science). He is a Doctor of Biosciences with a specialization in soil science.

Dr. Cherlinka attended the engineering college in Ukraine (1989-1993), went on to deepen his expertise in agrochemistry and agronomy in the Chernivtsi National University in the specialty, “Agrochemistry and soil science”.

In 2001, he successfully defended a thesis, “Substantiation of Agroecological Conformity of Models of Soil Fertility and its Factors to the Requirements of Field Cultures” and obtained the degree of Biosciences Candidate with a special emphasis on soil science from the NSC “Institute for Soil Science and Agrochemistry Research named after O.N. Sokolovsky”.

(Video) Spring Pasture Management (From Ag PhD Show #1096 - Air Date 4-7-19)

In 2019, Dr. Cherlinka successfully defended a thesis, “Digital Elevation Models in Soil Science: Theoretical and Methodological Foundations and Practical Use” and obtained the Sc.D. in Biosciences with a specialization in soil science.

Vasyl is married, has two children (son and daughter). He has a lifelong passion for sports (he’s a candidate for Master of Sports of Ukraine in powerlifting and has even taken part in Strongman competitions).

Since 2018, Dr. Cherlinka has been advising EOSDA on problems in soil science, agronomy, and agrochemistry.


What are some important factors of pasture management? ›

Some of the more important factors to consider include: soil type; climate; plant composition; type and age of livestock; topography (aspect and slope); water availability; presence of sensitive areas (unstable slopes, endangered species, wetlands, etc.); overall site condition; and grazing system/livestock management.

What is pasture management system? ›

Pasture management is the practice of growing healthy forage grasses and legumes that ensures a lasting food sources for livestock while at the same time focuses on maintaining and improving the ecological health of the soil.

What are the methods used to determine the quantity and quality of pasture? ›

The NIRS test analyses faecal samples to determine the quality of the pasture. It can be used to estimate the: amount of crude protein in the diet. percentage of feed that is absorbed by the animal.

What are 4 strategies you can use to make your pastures more productive? ›

Using annuals and winter annuals. Selecting forage species adapted to your area. Carefully managing grazing of riparian areas. Distributing livestock evenly.

What are methods of pasture improvement? ›

(x) Liming (xi) Ploughing/pulverization (xii) Fallowing/regeneration of pasture (xiii) i i) Erosion control (xiv) Pest control.

What are the basic factors to consider in pasture establishment? ›

THE THREE key factors that are critical to successfully establishing perennial pastures are absolute weed and pest control, adequate soil moisture at sowing and accurate seed placement.

What are the factors affecting productivity of pastures? ›

The factors affecting the distribution of pasture can be group into three, namely; Climatic factors. Soil or edaphic factros. Biotic factors.

What are two management practices in pasture? ›

There are a few management practices farm owners can use, such as removing manure from pastures, not rotating horses immediately after deworming, rotating pastures into hay or ruminant grazing for at least a year, dragging (see earlier), and maintaining high-quality pastures.

What is the first thing you will do in establishing pasture? ›

So you have to make sure you start as clean as possible. Whether you choose to use a combination of herbicides and cultivation, or multiple rounds of cultivation and fallow time, the point is to try to reduce the competition before the desired forage crop is actually planted.

What are the important factors that must be considered in farm planning? ›

Key factors that should be considered carefully during the planning stage of the farming operation are: site selection, water supply and quality, crop and variety selection, and, market development. If the wrong decision is made with regard to anyone of these, the operation is doomed for failure.

How many acres should a pasture be? ›

In general, you need 2 to 4 acres per horse if you want them to be out all the time and not overgraze a pasture. Most farm owners don't have this much space, but with more intensive grazing management, you can maintain horses on fewer acres and still have great pastures.

What are the three types of pasture? ›

A sown pasture could be one of sole grass or grass alone, grass/legume or, most uncommonly, sole legume or legume alone. Assignment: Read more about characteristics of sole grass,/legume and sole legume pastures.

What factors influence the success of pasture establishment? ›

THE THREE key factors that are critical to successfully establishing perennial pastures are absolute weed and pest control, adequate soil moisture at sowing and accurate seed placement.

When should I cut my weeds in pasture? ›

The results of the 2017 study suggests that mowing in June and August works as good as mowing every month to control weeds, and the June mowing will remove the seed heads.

What is the fastest growing pasture seed? ›

Teff germinates quickly and is usually ready for first harvest at the early boot stage 35 to 50 days after planting.

What soil is best for pasture? ›

The target soil pH for pasture soils should be pH 6.5 or even as high as 6.8 to 7.0 when alfalfa is in the pasture mix. Proper pH management is important because it influences availability of many soil nutrients to plants.

How many cows can 1 acre of pasture support? ›

The general rule of thumb is 1:1. That means one cow per one acre of pasture. Keep in mind that is a minimum requirement. A cow/calf pair will typically require closer to two acres.

How many cows can you graze on 20 acres? ›

It looks like our rule-of-thumb held up pretty good, 11 cows on 20 acres, is 1.8 acres per cow. We have enough forage to feed our cows for the whole year. These figures give you a good estimate and are a great place to start.

How often do you have to rotate pastures? ›

The number of days for each rotation that successful grass farmers practice varies between three to five days and all the way down to a twice-a-day rotation. Good rotations mean happy animals and healthy pasture.

What are the two main types of pasture? ›

There are two main types of pasture: the natural and artificial pastures: 1. The Natural Pasture: The Natural Pasture otherwise known as range land is an extensive grassland containing forage grasses and legumes, straws and other wildlife. An example of Natural Pasture is Savanna areas.

What is high quality pasture? ›

The following characteristics are common attributes of high quality permanent pastures: high legume content, high leaf content, low stem content, low dead matter content, young herbage age, and grown at cool temperatures.

What is pasture and grazing management? ›

Grazing management is the total process of organising livestock to make the best use of the pastures grown or managing the frequency and intensity that livestock graze pasture.


1. Webinar: Best grazing tips and strategies for soil improvement and pasture management
2. Pasture Management When Input Costs are High-Chris Teutsch and John Grove, UKREC
3. Pasture Renovation: MAKING A PLAN-Chris Teutsch
4. the complete guide to creating great pastures for your Dexter cattle
(Just a Few Acres Farm)
5. Grazing Management (full course)
(UTIA School of Natural Resources)
6. Grazing Management Concepts and Practices
(Alabama Forage Focus)


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