I have been given the opportunity to participate in grant provided by the Penn State Extension.  They are going to help me improve the quality of my pastures.


A Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) is currently funding on–farm pasture improvement projects for equine and livestock operations.   A variety of reseeding methods and pasture mixes will be utilized and evaluated. All recommendations will be based on horse and livestock nutritional needs, current pasture conditions, animal density and management, and environmental concerns.   Selected farms will receive assistance in selecting and implementing Best Management Practices (BMPs) that will ensure sustainable and productive pastures.  Penn State team members will work closely with participating farmers to collect soil samples, interpret soil test results and address any nutrient needs. Pastures will be evaluated to determine the total percent of canopy cover (vegetation) and the per cent of the canopy that is desirable for horses.  Final comprehensive plans will be developed to improve pasture quality. Plans may include: weed control recommendations, developing a rotational grazing system and adding heavy use areas that can be used during periods of poor pasture growth.  Participants will receive assistance in renovating and reseeding pastures that do not have sufficient vegetation.


Email after the evaluation

Good afternoon Jennifer,

 Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to come visit Golden Spike Farm and to evaluate your pastures.  It was a pleasure being able to discuss your goals for your pastures and how those preferences can be easily attained with our Pasture Renovation program.  I just wanted to follow up with you what we discussed during our visit. 

The four pastures we walked through were different each in their own way.  The first pasture we evaluated (the pasture farthest to the right when facing away from the barn that contained two horses) was mostly crabgrass with variations of white clover, some tall fescue, and a heavy population of alsike clover.  Two disease syndromes in horses have been associated with grazing alsike clover: photo-sensitization, and liver disease, which is less common.

 Symptoms – Liver disease is rare and may occur if the horses are feeding on large amounts of alsike clover. Symptoms include weight loss, jaundice, depression, and neurological abnormalities. Symptoms of photosensitization include destruction of skin cells in non-pigmented parts of the horse’s body when the skin is exposed to light. Affected skin will blister and eventually slough off.

A good way to eliminate alsike clover is to apply nitrogen fertilizer to pastures to enhance grass forage production. Broad-leaf herbicides can also be used to reduce clover concentrations in pastures.

 he second pasture evaluated was the pasture directly adjacent to the first pasture, which contained most of the horses and had a connecting pathway to the front pasture next to the barn.  This pasture had great canopy cover of mostly clover variations and weeds such as curly dock and crabgrass.  It also had a fenced off “ACA” and run-in shed (containing two boarding horses), which you expressed that you would like to have rejoin the rest of the pasture eventually.

 The front and final pasture evaluated was in most need of help.  This pasture had very little canopy cover (calculations only showed about 16%) and consisted mostly of crabgrass and other undesirable vegetation. This pasture would probably be the best candidate for our re-seeding renovations.

We are aware that your tractor does not have rear hydraulics, which are required to run the no-till drill.  However, if you are able to borrow or rent a tractor that has both the required horsepower and hydraulic features needed for the drill, we could move forward with the re-seeding renovations.   Additionally, we could also come up with other re-seeding methods using the equipment you already own, considering the size of the pasture to renovate isn’t very big.  Even so, we could always divide the pasture in half and renovate one side at a time. 

 It is important to realize that if we do conduct the pasture renovation that the horses will need to be kept off the recovering pasture and in an Animal Concentration Area (ACA) which you seemed to already have designated outside the barn.  This withdrawal period from the pasture will allow optimum regrowth and establishment so that you will have a thick stand of desirable pasture vegetation for your horses come next year. 

The no-till drill is scheduled to come in the last week of August.  If the weather permits, we should be able to re-seed well into September, especially your pastures due to your southeastern location.  We will keep in contact with you about scheduling again should you choose to renovate.

 Thank you so much again for your time.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Donna or me.


Equine Program Associate

Penn State Extension

Northampton/Bucks County Office