The Benefits of Hay and Pasture Mixes
Each forage species has different maturing times and agronomic advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, mixing species, or varieties of the same species, in pastures and hayfields can provide numerous benefits, including:
Longer Harvest Window: By including multiple species and/or varieties in seed mix, the resulting forage stand is at different maturation levels for a longer period of time. As a result, the quality of the stand can be a more consistent level from harvest to harvest or for a longer period during the grazing season.
Harsh Weather Insurance: Mixing species can provide more consistent performance in a forage stand during harsh weather conditions. For example, perennial ryegrass is exceptionally high quality, sometimes significantly better than tall fescue, but it doesn’t like hot, dry conditions. However, tall fescue is much more tolerant of drought and heat. By including tall fescue in a mix, the stand can perform better during periodic summer drought conditions. Orchardgrass, timothy, bromes, wheatgrass and other forage grasses have their own agronomic advantages that work well in various mixes.
More Disease and Pest Resistance: Many diseases and other pests affect some species more than others. By including genetic diversity in a field, disease and pest outbreaks are minimized.
Increased Soil Health: Soil is more productive under multispecies stands. The differing species provides a more diverse microbial environment, which can increase soil productivity.