UACES Facebook When wet weather dominates pastureland, overseeding is key to recovery
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Feb. 4, 2020

When wet weather dominates pastureland, overseeding is key to recovery

By Ryan MCGeeney
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast Facts:

  • Wet weather can result in soil compaction, leading to a host of problems
  • Make good triage choices: Move animals off your best pastures to allow them to recover
  • Over-seed at above-recommended rates

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LITTLE ROCK — The fall of 2019 and the ongoing winter have been particularly wet, with some unfortunate, negative effects on pastures throughout Arkansas. Wet soil is more susceptible to a host of “ills” that show up later in the season, many of which boil down to soil compaction.

Standing water in pastures and ruts

Dirk Philipp, associate professor of animal science for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said long-term damage means less forage and less grazing for animals.

“Stocking rates are kept about the same throughout the year, so in fall and winter there’s particular high pressure on pasture and forage health,” Philipp said.

Given the ongoing wet conditions, particularly in the southwestern area of the state, Philipp offered some general pointers on getting pastures safely through the winter into a new growing season.

“First, do some ‘triage’ if necessary,” he said. “If conditions get really rainy and muddy, don’t sacrifice your best pastures for stocking and hay feeding.”

Philipp recommended moving animals off prime pasture areas and onto a “sacrifice pasture.” Growers may have to repair that area later, but noted the costs will be more manageable.

“Most farmers maintain sacrifice hay feeding areas anyway,” Philipp said, as part of a long-term plan. This “won’t be the last winter with a lot of rain,” he said.

Pasture managers should plan on overseeding damaged areas or spots, if using cool-season perennial pastures such as tall fescue or orchardgrass.

If there are large mounds of livestock manure in the immediate area, Philipp recommends using a harrow, beam, or whatever’s available to drag the waste over the affected pasture, redistributing the nutrients.

The use of a harrow, beam, etc., will also help to rough up the pasture surface, better preparing it for overseeding — planting grass seed directly into the soil without tilling or otherwise disrupting it —, even with unused seed from the prior season.

“Broadcast seed at relatively high rates,” Philipp said. “Since you may use old seed anyway, it doesn’t matter if you go over the recommended rates.”

Philipp recommended overseeding during the second half of February, and keeping animals off of the affected area for several months, in order to for the new growth to take hold.

To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.


About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system. 

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Media Contact: Ryan McGeeney
Communication Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2120