Mowing With Molasses

Date

For the past few weeks as we've been moving the cattle from pasture to pasture, we've been following behind with the rotary cutter ("bush hog") to artificially graze the taller grasses and weeds which are less palatable to the cattle.

We mow the pastures at a height which will just slightly cut the tops of shorter grasses while hopefully stressing the taller weeds.  The goal is to develop a diverse, native population of legumes, grasses, and other vegetation which will benefit the soil and cattle.

We often will simultaneously spray some amendment - using a loader mounted sprayer.  Today we added molasses (about 2 cups) to every 25 gallons of water and sprayed the molasses-water while we mowed.  The sugar of the molasses will benefit the soil microorganisms and consequently the plants in the field which will be there for the cattle the next time they are in the pasture.

This mowing and spraying at the same time accomplishes several things: 1) it minimizes (or probably more accurately "optimizes") the soil compaction resulting from putting the tractor in the field, 2) it encourages the decomposition of the cut grasses to hopefully increase their transition to organic (carbon based) humus, and 3) smells good.  And it's not unpleasant to get bathed in a midst of molasses spray, especially when you remember you're not getting showered in a pesticide or herbicide.

After we were done mowing, we hooked up the rotary tiller to the tractor and tilled shallow strips almost the entire length of the pasture to encourage any seeds that might have been there for awhile, but which haven't had optimum conditions to grow.  Reportedly, seeds can remain dormant, or viable, for centuries.

So these are some of the ways we're working to improve things on the farm.

Mowing 2017