As another daylight saving rolls over, livestock farmers throughout New Zealand are preparing for the inevitable decline in pasture growth and the accompanying challenges of maintaining feed supplies next winter.
Farmlands Agronomist, Michael Bennet told REX host Dominic George that forage brassicas are able to fill that gap in reduced crop production through the colder months of the year.
"Forage brassicas is a great tool for meeting the feed requirements for livestock operations throughout the year, but particularly in the winter time is great to get you through when your pasture production is lowest," Bennet said.
These versatile plants, which include species like kale and Swedes, are indeed the unsung heroes of winter livestock feed management. According to Bennet, they have been used for generations to help smooth out the supply and demand for feed throughout the year, providing much-needed nutrition during the harshest winter months.
"So winter crops are a great way of leading in for regrassing, which also is a major driver of productivity on farm, as well as reducing pasture damage from pugging throughout those wetter and colder winter months," Bennet added.
Choosing the right brassica crop for your livestock involves considering several factors such as sowing dates, crop maturity requirements, paddock history, and soil fertility.
"You want to be soil testing early, just to give you plenty of time to address any potential issues that there might be with pH and making sure you've got enough nutrition for the crop."
But even the most nourishing crops can be undermined by pesky weeds. Bennet shared strategies for managing weeds in brassica crops, advising farmers not to underestimate the potential damage. He suggests using pre-emergence control methods to deal with potential weed issues and mentions several products suitable for post-emergence weed control.
By understanding the potential of forage brassicas and incorporating them effectively into livestock feeding routines, farmers can not only survive the winter months but thrive.
"Brassicas have been a major part of this for generations to help smooth out the supply and demand for feed throughout the year," Bennet concluded.
Listen to the full chat between Farmlands Agronomist Michael Bennet and Dominic George above.