Dryland pasture

Revitalizing Your Ranch: Resilient Dryland Pasture Solutions

Dryland and rangeland pastures are the backbone of most grazing operations. Because of this, they are often the limiting factor in an operations production capability. Therefore, meaningful improvements to dryland pastures can greatly increase an operation's profitability through increases in carrying capacity and stocking rate. 

Sowing the Seeds of Assessment

It is common for underperforming dryland pastures to suffer from one of a couple of conditions, either a general lack of forage yield, a lack of forage quality due to poor species composition, or both. Dryland pasture, which can include rangeland, is often categorized as either native or improved pasture. Native pastures are often warm-season grasses utilized during the summer months, while improved pastures are often cool-season grasses, which are often utilized during the difficult transition periods either just before turnout onto summer or native range. 

They can even be in the fall during the period when livestock is being brought off the summer range and are waiting to go onto the winter range or a winter feeding program. Finding solutions to improve the quality of your “transition” dryland pastures can dramatically increase the productivity of your operation. 



Before the harvest of rejuvenation can be reaped, a thorough assessment of your pastures is the first sowing. Kneeling upon the soil, this investigative process is rooted in observation. Is the forage yield dwindling, or has the quality of the pasture's species composition seen better days? Perhaps it's both, and the paddocks echo with the silence of potential unfulfilled. 

Grazing Management: The Conductor of Yield 

If your pastures contain a mix of high-quality grass species but lack growth and yield, start with an assessment of your grazing management and its effect on soil health. If the right type of grass is present but isn’t performing the way you would like, a change in grazing management can usually fix the problem over time. Changing grazing to a rotational system that provides short grazing periods followed by long recovery periods will help. Often progress can be sped up by applying a carbon source soil amendment (composted manure, vermicompost, etc.) and inter-seeding grass seed with a no-till drill.

grazing cows


When no-tilling seed into an existing pasture usually only 10 – 15 lbs. per acre is needed. It is recommended to pick a seed mix that matches the components that are most lacking in your pasture. If available and practical applying biologically active soil amendments such as compost can greatly help improve the health of a struggling pasture. Apply at a rate of less than ½ inch per acre to avoid damaging the grass that is already present. 

Under these conditions consider the following: Grass benefits best under rotational grazing when grazing isn’t initiated until the grass is at least 8-12 inches tall and fully recovered from the previous grazing or haying event and isn’t grazed any shorter than 4-6 inches. If these two principles are consistently practiced most every pasture will improve and remain healthy. 

The Ultimate Renovation - A Pasture's Phoenix Moment

The exception is when a pasture’s health is so far gone that invasive weeds and grasses have taken over. Under these conditions, more dramatic measures are required. Using an herbicide or tillage and replanting are options to consider. At this point, you are looking at a complete renovation, which although costly, does provide the opportunity to “reset” the pasture by picking a seed mix that best fits your objectives and applying the management practices mentioned above.  

Dryland pastures are some of the most valuable resources an operation has and should be managed to provide optimal productivity. With our Barenbrug seed mixes, tailored to the diverse needs of ranchers like you, we champion the cycles of renewal and resilience that your pastures crave. Whether it's the vigorous breath inter-seeding offers or the thorough overhaul of a complete renovation, our commitment to your pastures’ potential is unwavering.

Nurturing your dryland pastures is a task that demands your best mind and your most attentive eye. Each decision, from the stroke of management to the page of seed selection, weaves the narrative of your ranch's future. And with the right resources at your side, that story is one of green abundance, written season to season, year after year. 


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