IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS Extension shows horse owners that the grass can be greener

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, IFAS, Landscaping, Livestock

before and after pasture LARGE

AUGUSTINE, Fla. — When Diane Musil put in three acres of grazing pasture for her horses five years ago, she had more grass than she could mow. But over time, weeds began to take over, and bald patches appeared. The pasture was not the lush, green plot it used to be.

Unsure of how to deal with the problem, Musil decided to pull out all the weeds by hand — backbreaking work. “I hand-weeded all three acres,” she said. “It took me six weeks.”

Musil knew she needed expert help, so she signed up for the weed management seminar offered by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension St. Johns County. There she learned how to properly use chemical treatments to target weeds choking out her pasture. This gave her the confidence to buy a sprayer and start applying the treatments herself.

A few weeks later, Tim Wilson, director of UF/IFAS Extension St. Johns County, stopped by to see how her pasture was progressing. Soil samples revealed that the grass was under-fertilized, so he walked Musil through the process of adding nutrients to the soil.

Today, Musil’s pastures are flourishing. “Now I have more grass than I can shake a stick at,” she said. “Tim did a great job helping me. With Extension, I feel like I’m on top of things: I don’t have weeds, I have green grass and I know how to take care of it. I feel more in control and that I’m a good steward of my property. That’s what I always wanted to do.”

“Ms. Musil now has the pasture management knowledge she needs to make sound decisions for her farm,” said Wilson. “She has seen a substantial increase in the amount of food available for her horses.” Wilson recently offered a seminar specifically for horse-owners like her who want to learn how best to take care of their pastures. Nearly 70 people attended. “That’s almost 70 people who won’t be blindly fertilizing,” said Musil.

“We have a wonderful horse community in St. Johns County,” Musil added, and she believes Wilson has done a lot to bring this group together. “The fact that Tim has engaged the community like this is great. And it’s great to meet other horse owners at these events and bounce ideas off each other.”

Keeping her pastures healthy isn’t just about growing plenty of grass for her horses, Musil said. Her home is located in a suburban neighborhood where most homes sit on several acres. These larger lots attract people who keep horses, so well a cared-for paddock increases the property value of her home.

And, of course, a view of horses grazing on a green pasture certainly adds charm. “My neighbors love looking out from their porch and watching our horses,” Musil said.

Caption: Musil’s pasture, before (top) and after (bottom) she received help from UF/IFAS Extension St. Johns County. Musil learned how to properly control weeds in her pasture and fertilize her grass. Top photo by Diane Musil. Bottom UF/IFAS photo by Tim Wilson.

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By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Sources: Dianne Musil, 904-707-6015, sunnyspartans@bellsouth.net

Tim Wilson, 904-209-0430, timwilson@ufl.edu

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