Good management and fertilization practices are the key points to improve the soil fertility to boost up the growth of forage production in the horse pasture. It can be achieved by applying the best fertilizers for horse pasture.
The commonly grown grasses for horse pastures are the orchard grass, bluegrass, tall fescue, and perennial grasses but the dry matter production totally depends on the soil health and fertility.
A good fertilized field will produce quality forage and high yields. But the important thing to be taken care of is the choice of fertilizer.
From such a huge market of fertilizers, we have chosen some valuable and money valued products that will help the grass fields to boost growth.
So we built this guide to help you in choosing the best fertilizer for pasture fields.
- 1 Soil testing for horse pasture
- 2 Buying Guide: Best fertilizer for Horse Pasture
- 3 Reviews: Best Horse Pasture Fertilizers
- 3.1 1. Super Juice All in One Soluble Supplement Lawn Fertilizer – nitrogen fertilizer liquid
- 3.2 2. Scotts Turf Builder Winterguard Fall Lawn Food – Best Pasture fertilizer
- 3.3 3. The Andersons PGF Complete 16-4-8 Fertilizer with Humic DG – Pasture Pro fertilizer
- 3.4 4. Scotts Turf Builder Thick’R Lawn Sun & Shade – 3 in 1 Lawn Fertilizer, Seed, Soil Improver
- 3.5 5. Milorganite 0636 Organic Nitrogen Fertilizer – Best organic nitrogen fertilizer
- 3.6 6. J R Peters Inc Jacks Prof 77900 High-Performance Fertilizer – best pasture fertilizer
- 3.7 7. Urea 99+% Pure Commercial Grade 46-0-0 Granular Fertilizer – Nitrogen fertilizer
- 4 Fertilizing Grass Pastures
- 5 Fertilizing Legume Monocultures and Mixtures
- 6 When to apply fertilizer to Horse Pasture
- 7 How to apply fertilizer to the Horse grass pasture fields
- 8 Pasture management for horses
- 9 How to care for pasture grass
- 10 FAQs
- 11 Conclusion
Soil testing for horse pasture
Prior to choosing and applying any fertilizer for pasture fields, you will need to do the soil test by soil pH meter.
The testing of soil is a valuable tool in developing the fertilization program of pastures. As the soil test will clear the soil present health and status of all the nutrients in the soil.
You should sample the hayfields annually and grazed pastures every other year to maintain the soil health status.
Soil pH is the measure of the acidity of the soil. If the soil test shows that the pH is lower than the application of lime is done to increase the soil pH. Liming will provide the calcium and magnesium to the soil.
Liming will help to maintain the availability of beneficial nutrients and decrease the effect of the toxic elements like aluminium. But use the lime according to the soil test results.
Buying Guide: Best fertilizer for Horse Pasture
Before choosing any fertilizer you should know some basic knowledge about the description written on the tag of the fertilizer. The tag on the fertilizer pack shows the NPK amount in the package.
If the bag is showing something like 15-5-10 then it means that the food has 15 per cent nitrogen, 5 per cent phosphorus, and 10 per cent potassium. If a fertilizer has all the three numbers other than 0 then it is known as a complete fertilizer.
But the soil testing decides whether the pasture fields need complete fertilizer or the individual nutrient fertilizer.
The soil testing does show the actual number of P and K in the soil but does not give the exact number of N because of its rapid mobility. So the testing will tell if the P and K are needed to apply or not.
The animal grazed fields need the application of the P and K.
The recommended amount of the nitrogen to the pasture fields is 90 pounds of nitrogen per acre per year which clearly shows that while buying the pasture fertilizers, focus on choosing the nitrogenous fertilizers.
Role of nitrogen in pastures fields
- Nitrogen application to horse pastures is not needed during spring as the grass growth is already rapid in this season. However, if your farm has high stocking rates or intensive grazing then a light application of nitrogen will help.
- During the fall season, the split nitrogen application (30-60 pounds per acre) will help the prolongation of the pasture growth and help the pasture fields for the winter season.
- In the summer season, the nitrogen fertilization is only recommended if harvesting hay or bermudagrass.
Role of P & K in pasture fields
- Recent sources show that P and K improve plant growth and longevity, but the plants do not use the lime directly. Rather, lime does only adjust the soil pH and improves the availability of the nutrients to the plants.
- Soil testing is the only tool to determine the amount of P and K applications to the soil.
- The application of P and K are not bound to any season, they can be applied in any season as long as the weather is cooperative.
Reviews: Best Horse Pasture Fertilizers
1. Super Juice All in One Soluble Supplement Lawn Fertilizer – nitrogen fertilizer liquid
Super juice formula is a complete supplement food for the grass to boost their growth and turf building capacity. This improved version is a complete fertilizer that is all-in-one grass food.
It is enriched with 4% iron that helps the grass to grow normally and lush green.
It is formulated in a dry mixture form that is water-soluble and applied to the grass by mixing the dry mixture in water.
The 14-2-4 NPK proportion of this food shows the nitrogenous nature of this food that will help the grass be more healthy and lush green.
One package of this plant food is enough to feed the grass growing on one-acre land.
It is applied to pasture fields in the juicy form to get dark green grass.
The new growth shows the results of this food after 5-12 days after the application.
- Iron enriched formula
- Complete fertilizer for pasture fields
- 14-2-4 NPK ratio helps to feed the grass with required nitrogen
- Enough food for one acre grassy field
- Need a tank for mixing the dry mixture in water
2. Scotts Turf Builder Winterguard Fall Lawn Food – Best Pasture fertilizer
Every pasture field needs food supplement during the fall to boost up the growth to make new leaves and to combat the harsh winter weather.
This plant food by Scotts is turf builder food that helps the grassy fields to combat the winter season by providing all the essential nutrients.
By a single application of this food, the new look of grass comes as it helps build-up of strong and deeper roots for the upcoming spring season.
The best thing about this pasture food is that it shows the best results on all grass types.
- Promotes the strong roots network
- Helps to combat the winter harsh conditions
- Applicable to all grass types
- Improves water efficacy
- Not defined proportion of NPK
3. The Andersons PGF Complete 16-4-8 Fertilizer with Humic DG – Pasture Pro fertilizer
This slow-releasing complete fertilizer is a complete food supplement to combat the problem of low fertility.
Superfine particles of this plant food give twice the number of particles to cover more area.
The shiny feature of this fertilizer is the slow-releasing nature that helps to feed the plants for up to 8 weeks.
Humic DG present in the food improves soil health which ultimately allows the plants to get nutrients better.
- Supports the turf building
- Slow releasing – Provides food for more than 8 weeks
- Improves soil structure with time
- Some people may find it costly
4. Scotts Turf Builder Thick’R Lawn Sun & Shade – 3 in 1 Lawn Fertilizer, Seed, Soil Improver
The premium feature of this product is the thickening of the grass by ready availability of the essential at the root zone.
This turf builder grass food is popular for its soil-improving features along with fertilization.
The most impressive thing about this formulation is the thickening of grass due to the presence of the grass seeds in the product.
All you need to do is the application of this food to your grass fields and irrigate them and you will notice the results in a few weeks.
- Beneficial product for improving soil structure which will promote roots growth
- Results in the form of thick grass
- Fill all the bare patches of field
- Not clearly mention the NPK ratio
5. Milorganite 0636 Organic Nitrogen Fertilizer – Best organic nitrogen fertilizer
If your pasture fields are yellowing by the low nitrogen availability at the root zone then this organic fertilizer by Milogranite will work as a miracle for them.
The premium feature of this product is the organic nitrogen which will help the soil structure build-up.
The great thing is the slow releasing nature of this food which allows more time of nutrients availability at the root zone.
It does reduce the water needs of the fields by improving soil structure to hold moisture for more time.
- Organic fertilizer will improve soil fertility
- Give relief from frequent fertilization
- Comes in a large bag that will cover more area
- Does only provide nitrogen to the pasture fields
6. J R Peters Inc Jacks Prof 77900 High-Performance Fertilizer – best pasture fertilizer
This product contains the exact ratio of 25-5-15 NPK that will ultimately result in the thick lush green pasture field on the application.
The shiny feature of this product is that this food has maximum NPK delivery among other products in the market.
It is the premium food product for feeding the plants from moderate to warm climates.
The best thing is that it does have the macronutrients enrichment which allows the best growth results of plants.
- This fertilizer can be used as a nutrient booster if your plants are dying of low nutrients
- The 25-pound packing of this product gives you more area coverage
- Designed to maximize the NPK at the root zone
- No cons yet
7. Urea 99+% Pure Commercial Grade 46-0-0 Granular Fertilizer – Nitrogen fertilizer
To meet the nitrogen needs of the grass fields this granular urea food works great as the grass loves the nitrogen nutrient for successful growth.
The premium feature of this fertilizer is the granular nature which gives the opportunity of easy spreading and availability at the roots.
This high quality and commercial grade fertilizer allows the opportunity to combat the yellowing of leaves that occur by low nitrogen.
- Boost the growth of pasture fields by providing the nitrogen at the root zone
- Easy soluble on watering
- Readily available nitrogen source
- Does only provide Nitrogen to the plants
Fertilizing Grass Pastures
1. Tall Fescue, Orchardgrass, and Other Cool Season Grasses
The recommended amount of nitrogen for tall fescue and orchardgrass is 120 pounds per acre. If the tall fescue is grown for hay then the application of 60-80 pounds of nitrogen in late winter will be favourable.
If the summer cut of fescue is obtained then the 70 pounds of N application will be good.
The orchardgrass produces less forage than tall fescues.
The P and K rate depends on the soil test results.
2. Hybrid Bermudagrasses and Coastal Bermudagrass and other Warm Season Grasses
If the hybrid Bermudagrass or Coastal Bermudagrass is grown for the horses feeding then the 75-100 pounds of N application in spring does give much better results.
Nitrogen application is done after each cut. But the amount of P and K does vary with soil test results.
When the bermudagrass is grazed than the split application of recommended total N (150-200 pounds) will improve the nutrient utilization and more forage production.
3. Bahiagrass and Common Bermudagrass
Bahiagrass and common bermudagrass produce less yield then hybrid bermudagrass and they are mostly used for grazing.
Nitrogen application of 100-150 pounds in splits is enough to complete the nutrients requirement of these grasses.
The P and K applied as indicated by soil test results.
4. Winter Annual Cereal Grains and Grasses (Rye, Ryegrass, Wheat, Oats)
Some cereals and grasses are also grown as pasture purposes but the nutrient requirement of these cereal fields is similar to common grasses.
The 150 pounds of N in splits is enough for the whole growing season of most cereals as:
- 1st split application is done at fall planting or emergence time or active growth
- 2nd split application is done during the early winter season
Ryegrass has little more length than other grasses so the third application of 40-60 pounds of nitrogen during late march helps to boost its growth.
Fertilizing Legume Monocultures and Mixtures
Legumes can fix the nitrogen from the atmosphere so they complete their nitrogen needs from this fixation and do not require any additional application of the nitrogen.
However, P and K are needed by these grasses for good persistence and production.
If the mixture of grass and legumes is growing then the application should be timed to minimize the competition between them.
1. Tall Fescue-Clover and Orchardgrass-Clover Mixtures
If the mixture of tall fescue along with the white, ladino, or red clover is under consideration then their fertilization is done as:
- If the clover stands more than 15 percent then no nitrogen application needed.
- If the clover is 5 to 15 percent then 30-40 pounds of nitrogen application is needed.
- But if the clover is less than 5 percent then the pasture is fertilized as pure fescue or orchardgrass field.
The moderate fertilization of pasture fields in the early fall helps in stimulating the growth and does not affect the grass by grazing.
While growing clover makes sure to apply the P and K fertilizers properly.
When to apply fertilizer to Horse Pasture
The timing of fertilization should match the growth pattern of the forage fields. As the application should be done when the forages maximum used the applied nutrients.
For the cool-season grasses like
and legumes like
have the growth maximum during the fall and spring season so the split application is recommended.
- Fertilization during the early spring boosts the summer production.
- Fertilization during the early summer helps in boosting fall production.
In the case of split application, divide the total amount needed into two equal parts. Apply the one-half amount in spring and second half in the early summer.
How to apply fertilizer to the Horse grass pasture fields
The application of the granular fertilizer is done by using broadcast spreaders. If the pasture size is small then the walk-behind spreaders or tractor-pulled can also do this job in a nicer way.
The application needs to be done in such a way that it reaches the plant root zone on dissolving. The application of fertilizer just prior to the rain is a good act to support the easy availability of nutrients to the roots.
While applying the fertilizer, try not to spread the fertilizer in the areas with standing water or lakes and streams.
Pasture management for horses
These are some valuable tips to manage the pastures fields:
- After fertilization, it is necessary to restrict the entry of horses to the fertilized fields to prevent the horses from inadvertently consuming the fertilizer.
- Keep the horses away from the fertilized pastures fields until
- A half-inch of rain has fallen
- In case of absence of rain, keep the horses away for 2-3 weeks
- Or the absence of the fertilizer from the soil surface
- After the successful dissolving of the fertilizer to the soil, the grass is ok for resume grazing.
How to care for pasture grass
Forage grasses are more subjected to the diseases of the leaf, stem, and roots. These disease attacks on the forage fields limit the effective utilization of grass and effects the herbage quality and digestibility.
The most attacking diseases of forage grasses include:
- Leaf spots
These disease attacks cause a reduction and these can be controlled by chemical control by applying the best available fungicides for grasses.
Can you fertilize a pasture with horses on it?
The best practice is to remove the horses from the fertilized fields and again introduce them after the fertilizer is absorbed completely in the ground.
How soon can horses graze after fertilizing?
After the fertilization, the better time to initiate re grazing is after six weeks. This practice will provide the pasture to utilize the nutrients better and provide good quality nutrition to prevent overstocking.
How do I make my horse’s pasture better?
The condition of horse pastures can be improved by following these simple steps:
Improving Pastures by Encouraging Root Development
- Follow the rotational grazing system – it will give the grass more time to recover by utilizing soil nutrients
- During mowing try to cut grass higher and do mowing less as much you can do
- Do timely fertilization
- To install the high traffic area pads
- Designate a sacrifice area for pastures
Can fertilizer harm horses?
Yes, of course, it is fatal for the horses to graze the freshly fertilized grass.
When a field is fertilized, the growth is rapid for a few days due to the rapid takeup of nutrients from the soil so more chemicals in the shoots.
Eating of these leaves will cause nitrate poisoning in horses.
Fertilization is the key point to get the maximum output of any plant whether it is a grass field or any plants. Only the relevant fertilizer will deliver the required results otherwise the more nutrients will disturb the nutrients balance in the soil. All the products are high quality and commercial grade and are selected for all the possible soil conditions you could get after soil testing.
Hi i am Waqar Zafar, a passionate plant pathologist. I have done graduation Plant pathology and animal science. My research papers on pest control and plant health phenomenon published in many journals. Research is not limited to some papers as agriculture and farming is a wide field so looking for suggestions from readers.