Progressive Farmer October 2015 : Page-15

See the video at It was insight that began to form in Cates’ mind after he attended a grassland-management lecture in 1990. “We went, ‘Holy moly! That could work on our landscape.’ We learned we needed to keep the land in grass and manage it properly,” he recalls. The rotational grazing system they set up was so effective they were able to withstand even the withering drought of 1988, which forced liquidations of some Upper Midwest cow herds. reflection of manaGement. “Your pasture mix will end up being what you’re managing for whether or not it is your plan,” Cates says. “Your grasses are going to refl ect how tight you graze, how often you graze, and, over time, your grasses will come into balance, and nature will fi ll the voids. Your pasture will be a refl ection of your management.” The Cates’ grazing system is built exclusively on a mix of cool-season grasses and clover. “We graze our pastures tall, and we frost-seed red clover every three years at about 5 pounds an acre into that grass in March, in the frost season,” he says. Clover seed is relatively dense, and it fi nds its way down into the cracks in the soil with the early spring freeze/thaw cycles. “When we put the cattle on the pasture in April, their hooves push the clover seed into the soft ground, essentially planting it as they graze.” This is a highly productive mix for Cates. It provides growth throughout the hot summer and a residual stand in the fall. “We have a whole range of grasses—bromegrass, orchardgrass, quack grass and tall fescue,” he says. “Our favorite one is meadow fescue because it has a long growing season, is very palatable and does well on wetter, as well as dryer, soils. It grows prolifi cally in southwest Wisconsin.” Cates knows some will question the presence of tall fescue in his mix because of the fungal endophyte that affects grazing cattle. “Tall fescues have been improved, and there are many that do not have that endophyte,” he says. It is a plant that handles the heat well and grows in drought. Cates tried to seed warm-season grasses into his cool-season swards, but they didn’t compete well. “A little farther south, you can incorporate warm-▶ Get the inputs you need to keep your business rolling. When you’re empowered with a fast and easy alternative to cash, there’s no stopping what you can do. A multi-use account ensures you have the flexibility to purchase the inputs required to keep your business moving forward. Do more with a company that’s been empowering producers for more than 175 years. To learn more, visit . Multi-use accounts are a service of John Deere Financial, f.s.b. CR0314140

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