The Power of Three
Early on in my career, I learned of the power of three. A lot of these influences came from the New Zealand grazing programs which I helped teach to my client base as a consultant. The power of three to me means, plant at least three different forages on any block of land that will be grazed. Here are the reasons for that.
Mother nature always seems to come into play. She fluctuates even more now than back decades ago. When I discuss this at seminars, I ask the crowd, what the weather will be this year. As most look at me funny, they shrug their shoulders and admit that they don’t know. We might have a period of excess wet early spring. Then we might go through a period of drought. No doubt there will be days that are cool and other days extremely hot. Growing conditions are a great unknown. How do we handle this? Planting at least three different forages.
These three different forages also should come with a strategy. I always want something that handles hot and dry. I want something that can handle wet. I also want something that grows fast. Another area I also focus on is having staggered maturities. The staggered maturities also come into play when it comes to handling the variable weather but they are important in the world of prolonged grazing attraction.
Whether we are talking about spring cover crops, perennial plots, summer annuals or fall focus plots, we should always plant at least three different forages. How do we decide which to mix together? That is an art. Soil types are one area you first consider. Next comes to what was planted previously and what your going to plant the next rotation. You also need to look at current soil health and nutrient levels when making your formulation. No matter what you plant, the key is to have over 100% ground coverage. So often I see companies selling blends that only have 70-90% of the correct levels of pure live seed per acre. Know your full seeding rates of each forage and then calculate how much of each forage you want as a final stand percentage.
In a world where people do not fully consider how mother nature affects attraction of a forage at any point in it’s growth cycle, it is also important to spread your risk. Do all you can to better handle mother nature.