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Old 04-17-2011, 12:19 AM
 
Location: Meggett, SC
10,693 posts, read 9,227,806 times
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We're looking at a 300 acre tract of land that has primarily been used for pine timber. About 100 acres has already been logged and would be ready to convert to pasture. The remaining balance has about 4 more years before it is ready to be logged and subsequently converted. Our plans is to use this land for a wholesale landscape tree farm. Do any of you have experience in converting timberland to pasture/farmland? It's hard around these parts to find anything over 50 acres in pasture. That's why we are considering going this route.
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Old 04-19-2011, 04:24 PM
 
Location: Stuck in NE GA right now
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It's very hard to do that, first it will depend upon your soil type, you will need to get it tested to determine what type of nutriants you will need to add. I live in NE GA and it took about 2 years to get good pasture growing where there was once pines. Pines suck a lot of needed nutriants out of the soil. I used a variety of things, "cooked horse poo" and chicken litter to return the soil to a workable pasture, it will also depend on what time of year you start as to what seeds you put down.

Your best bet is to talk to the local horse/cattle farmers to see what they put down for their pasture maintenece and also work with your Ag extension agent.
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Old 04-19-2011, 04:42 PM
 
Location: Meggett, SC
10,693 posts, read 9,227,806 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReturningWest View Post
It's very hard to do that, first it will depend upon your soil type, you will need to get it tested to determine what type of nutriants you will need to add. I live in NE GA and it took about 2 years to get good pasture growing where there was once pines. Pines suck a lot of needed nutriants out of the soil. I used a variety of things, "cooked horse poo" and chicken litter to return the soil to a workable pasture, it will also depend on what time of year you start as to what seeds you put down.

Your best bet is to talk to the local horse/cattle farmers to see what they put down for their pasture maintenece and also work with your Ag extension agent.
Yeah, I think that's what I was looking for, a personal experience. For our farm needs, we need good sandy soil. Those pines can really mess with the soil composition. I know hubby uses Clemson Ag Ext all the time to test soil. I'll run this by him. Two years - that's tough!
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Old 04-23-2011, 05:15 AM
 
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Oh yeah, I have done this and continue to do so and its tough, but doable.

The problem is the PH in the soil. Pines are very acidic and the softwoods tend to love acidic soil. My soil after harvesting wood ranges in the 5.2 PH range, and of course you need around 7 PH to grow any grass tonnage. In my case, going from 5.2 PH to 7 PH takes about 8800 pounds of lime per acre!! You can't do that all at once of course so it takes some time.

Then there is the nitrogen factor. Forest litter has abundant nitrogen in it, but as that litter decomposes, it uses nitrogen to consume the woody debris. After about 7 years though, that woody debris is decomposed and now it is released back into the soil and available for crop uptake, in this case...grass.

So converting forest to pasture is worthwhile...in the long run, but short term you are not going to gain a lot. But then again, with farming everything you do is long term. In fact most of what I do I know I will not get a return on investment for at least 7 years out. It is just a given.
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Old 04-24-2011, 10:10 PM
 
Location: Interior AK
4,729 posts, read 8,735,734 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by southbel View Post
We're looking at a 300 acre tract of land that has primarily been used for pine timber. About 100 acres has already been logged and would be ready to convert to pasture. The remaining balance has about 4 more years before it is ready to be logged and subsequently converted. Our plans is to use this land for a wholesale landscape tree farm. Do any of you have experience in converting timberland to pasture/farmland? It's hard around these parts to find anything over 50 acres in pasture. That's why we are considering going this route.
Maybe I'm missing something... but if your plans are to convert current woodland to a farmed woodlot, why are you planning to convert it to pasture first?

You may need to adjust the pH and composition a little to support the trees you intend to farm (or chose to farm trees that grow in the current soil conditions) but normal woodlot/woodland management (pulling stumps, etc) would allow you to come in and plant orderly rows of farmed trees. Nature will take care of filling in the cleared sections with grasses and low vegetation, you just have to make sure to keep the volunteer saplings and shrubs under control (which is where goats would come in really handy).

If you aren't planning to run livestock on pasture or farm hay, doing a full pasture conversion is unnecessary. Unless you're intending to farm large acreage of field crops, you wouldn't need to get out every single stump and rock either.
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Old 04-25-2011, 01:22 AM
 
Location: Meggett, SC
10,693 posts, read 9,227,806 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MissingAll4Seasons View Post
Maybe I'm missing something... but if your plans are to convert current woodland to a farmed woodlot, why are you planning to convert it to pasture first?

You may need to adjust the pH and composition a little to support the trees you intend to farm (or chose to farm trees that grow in the current soil conditions) but normal woodlot/woodland management (pulling stumps, etc) would allow you to come in and plant orderly rows of farmed trees. Nature will take care of filling in the cleared sections with grasses and low vegetation, you just have to make sure to keep the volunteer saplings and shrubs under control (which is where goats would come in really handy).

If you aren't planning to run livestock on pasture or farm hay, doing a full pasture conversion is unnecessary. Unless you're intending to farm large acreage of field crops, you wouldn't need to get out every single stump and rock either.
Agree. Suspect that we wouldn't need to do a full pasture conversion but for these types of trees, which are ornamental landscape trees, we are going to focus on quality of the trees and good planting soil will be very important. Biggest issue in this part of the country is bottom lands. We aren't called the Low Country for no reason! I would likely be willing to do the work if it was good high and dry land with sandy soil. I think we'll end up with a couple of hundred acres that has some balance of fields and timber and work to convert the timberland over time. After all, trees aren't a quick crop. The pines can do a number on the soil though.
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Old 04-26-2011, 07:58 AM
 
Location: Londonderry, NH
41,490 posts, read 52,106,971 times
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Consult the AG agent first. Then follow his advice. If the timber was pitch pine the stumps may have some value as sources of turpentine or fuel. Where I live the problem is to keep the trees out of the pasture land not grow more.
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:24 PM
 
Location: Interior AK
4,729 posts, read 8,735,734 times
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Do some research on the expected soil conditions in your target market area after getting your soil tested. If the target's soils are fairly acidic as well, your best bet would be to plant acid loving ornamentals (there are lots) and your current acidic soil wouldn't need such a big overhaul. If your plans are to sell at local nurseries or direct to locals, you may find that the soils in your area are naturally acidic, just like it is on your property.

Your ag or forestry office would have all that information and could recommend appropriate species, along with any soil conditioning and amendments that you'd need after you get your soil tested. You may find that all you need to do is run a root rake through and add a few amendments on the surface or lightly disked in to improve the nutrients.
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