Since there are several disadvantages to establishing a pasture from scratch, including the possibility of erosion, high cost, and extensive labor, some forage producers investigate the potential of renovating an existing pasture. Renovation is defined as the improvement of a pasture by partial or complete destruction of a sod and liming, fertilizing, weeding, and seeding as required to grow desirable forage plants. The beauty of renovating a permanent pasture is that can bring greater productivity and improved forage quality without losing a lot of soil. This is because most of the plant material in the field remains in or on the soil surface during the operation.

Frequently, where an old pasture is to be replanted, taking an extra year and growing an annual crop for pasture, hay, or grain to allow time for old sod to decay will yield more desirable results.

Renovation may occur by disrupting of the sod via tilling or plowing, but recent developments in planting equipment, and the availability of herbicides, make it also possible to establish alfalfa or an alfalfa/grass mixture without true tillage by drilling the new seed into the existing sod.

A sample recipe for renovation follows:

By imposing short duration grazing with large numbers of cattle in the mid-spring and then removing the stock, lowly productive, weedy pastures are "pruned" in a manner that stimulates a flush of uniform new growth. This growth is then very effectively treated with a non-selective herbicide and left through the summer. In late summer, the soil surface is lightly tilled at far less expense than conventional soil preparation. Next, seed and fertilizer are applied to the mulched surface. Finally, a roller firms soil around the seed leaving the scene set for germination with fall rains. The application of the herbicide to young spring growth provides excellent weed control prior to seed development and at the same time leaves the plant material intact and in place. In the fall, the dead plants (and their dead but not decomposed roots) act as a mulch to hold soil in place when rains might otherwise cause erosion. Minimum tillage results in less use of fuel, time, and machinery, all of which decrease costs. This procedure can be effective when using seeds that don't require high-quality seedbed preparation. Seed has also been used at higher rates to compensate for lack of thorough tillage. The net results have been a substantial increase in pasture production, effective weed control, and elimination of erosion on hillside fields. (Paul Day - Livestock)