Pastures with properly mineralized soils, high organic matter, and biological activity produce higher quality plants or feed, and result in better animal performance and fewer herd health problems. Farms with healthy soils growing more nutritious, higher quality pasture can produce higher milk yields while feeding fewer concentrates. Managing internal parasites, which can be a challenge with young stock on organic dairy farms, is reported by some farmers to be easier after improving soil health. Some farmers also report experiencing fewer metabolic and other herd health problems, longer-lived animals, and more replacements reaching productive years.
An important part of organic dairy farming is creating a farm where microorganisms in both the soil and the livestock’s digestive system are abundant and healthy. These organisms play essential roles in the process of cycling nutrients and energy from soil, air, and sun to plant, animal, manure, and back to the soil.
Note these pasture-specific soil fertility issues.
- A good grazing system will provide an even distribution of manure in pastures.
- Application of compost instead of raw manure to pastures can help eliminate rejected forage in the next grazing cycle. Fall application generally results in less rejected forage.
- Healthy soil biology incorporates manure into pasture and meadow soils as rapidly as possible to minimize nutrient loss. Monitor the rate at which earthworms, dung beetles, or other beneficial soil life incorporate manure into the soil…
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