Manure provides all the fertilizer that you will ever need to maintain fertility. The Wingfield Harrow breaks up clumped manure and evenly spreads the manure to fertilize the pasture. Cattle dislike grass that is located near manure, and experienced ranchers notice that cattle will not eat grass that grows within one foot of a manure pile. Harrowing can break up these manure piles, thereby increasing manure’s fertilizer treatment and absorbing the fertilizer into the soil more quickly.

Many livestock producers use the Wingfield Harrow to rotate their cattle around an individual pasture. A large Midwest university placed GPS tags on 2 cows; they found that the cattle spent 75% of their time in only 25% of the pasture. With the Wingfield Harrow, ranchers found that utilizing “spot treatments” evenly spreads the manure throughout the pasture. Because cattle dislike grass located near a manure pile, they move to other areas with clean grass. Harrowing assists grass growth by keeping the cattle away and allowing a broken pile to dissolve into the soil. While it is best to harrow pastures on a regular basis, our customers have found that harrowing a pasture two to three times a year is effective.

The benefits of pasture harrowing don’t stop there! In addition to spreading manure evenly throughout pastures, the Wingfield Harrow also works to decrease fly populations, which can cut livestocks’ risk of mastitis. By keeping pastures aerated and breaking up piles, manure dries at a faster rate and prevents larvae from maturing inside manure piles. Our customers report that continual harrowing in dry feed lots reduces fly population by 30%!

Intensive grazing provides a challenge because as livestock concentrate in choice areas, increased pasture stress results due to large amounts of manure and tramping the grasses into dormancy. We recommend moving your livestock to another pasture and harrowing these trouble spots several times, breaking the manure into small particles. These small particles of manure will dissolve into the soil, increasing the recovery of vegetation from the roots. If the recovery of the existing vegetation is not sufficient, we recommend broadcasting additional grasses or legumes, and incorporating with the Wingfield Flexible Harrow. Grass has a maximum growth zone of 3 inches to 11 inches, and harrowing is most beneficial in areas that have been grazed in this zone.

Horses create an interesting problem because they are such picky eaters, preferring to graze in one area, and drop manure. Harrowing forces horses to graze the entire pasture, and thereby distribute fertilizer all over the pasture. This assists grass growth, allowing horses to return to their favorite spots more quickly.

The Wingfield Harrow is the only tool farmers need to inter-seed pastures. Our agronomist recommends the following procedure to establish new vegetation in the shortest amount of time, using the least amount of seed. Cool season grasses can be seeded twice a year (spring or fall), depending on where you live. Harrowing can cut the manufacturer’s suggested seed rate in half, and it is important to use two or three harrow passes to reduce seed rates First, drag our harrow on the aggressive setting, which removes the thatch and opens the soil to a depth of one quarter to one half inch deep, the ideal depth for grasses. Second, broadcast your seed. Finally, make two harrow passes to work the seed through the existing grass. These passes settle the seed into the groove that was created on the original pass, and place the thatch on top as mulch. On the second pass after seeding, some of our customers like to keep the front section aggressive, and the back section either turned around, or upside down (tines pointing up) to provide a little better settling of the seed. The dry mulch creates a cover that prevents moisture from moving from the finer soil where the seed is placed through capillary attraction. You will find the seeds will germinate faster even with little rainfall or just a heavy dew.

Adding weight allows the harrow to more deeply penetrate soil depths, but additional weight will increase wear on the tines. The most popular item is the truck tire, which evenly distributes weight across the harrow and is easily wired to the harrow mat.

When you have a harrow on a 3-point frame, you control the harrow. With a drawbar, the harrow controls you. Harrows can be mounted on a drawbar or a frame. Frame-mounted harrows are easily transportable, can be reversed, and allow farmers to lift the harrow and shake out collected material. Some farmers start out with a drawbar, and purchase a frame later to mount the harrow.

The Wingfield Flexible Harrow does an excellent job to dethatch, aerate, break up manure, and inter-seed grasses. You can never over-harrow your pastures. Some of our customers harrow their pastures 8-10 times a year, and other customers harrow every day. We use the highest quality high-carbon steel, which is why the Wingfield Harrow outlasts and outperforms the competition, and provides a healthy environment for your livestock.

 

-Chris Wingfield

© 2006

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Pasture Maintenance with the Wingfield Harrow