How to prepare winter feed and maintain pasture in autumn

How to prepare winter feed and maintain pasture in autumn

Agronomy experts Josh Verhoek, from Ballance and Elton Mayo, from the Farmlands Agronomy team join REX host Dom George to offer their valuable insights into managing pastures in dry autumn conditions. 

The pair provide strategies to ensure chicory and other forages not only survive but thrive amidst the challenges of a drought. Elton Mayo discusses the importance of maintaining chicory, a forage that has significantly increased in popularity over the last decade.

"Drilling into an existing stand of chicory is certainly advantageous, as the chicory stays in the grazing rotation while new ryegrass and clover are established." Mayo suggests.

He recommends mowing chicory in advance of grazing to manage the height and prevent ryegrass and clover from being compromised by lack of light. This innovative approach allows farmers to keep the chicory in the system without negatively affecting the ryegrass establishment. 

The discussion also turns to the topic of starter fertilisers in dry conditions, with Josh Verhoek highlighting their role in successful planting. He explains that when broadcast, "a lot of it will actually sit there," indicating the dependence on moisture for the fertilizer to be effective.

Verhoek also speaks on the significance of nitrogen application post-germination, pointing out that "nitrogen really comes into its own once the crop's been established," as it's vital for leaf expansion and root development. The proper timing of nitrogen application is stressed to avoid running short of soil-supplied nitrogen during critical growth phases. 

Another focal point of the conversation is the decision-making process when facing drought-affected land. Mayo advises assessing pastures early for better outcomes and making informed choices about under-sowing with different ryegrass types. He remarks on the dilemma farmers face regarding sowing timing: "Sowing in the dust is a must."

Mayo explains that sowing before the end of March, even in dry soil, is preferable to waiting for rain because it can lead to a significant advantage in winter feed production. Lastly, weed control is addressed, with the point, "the easiest weeds to control are small weeds." 

Mayo notes the complexity of using herbs in pasture mixes and the importance of selecting the appropriate chemistry for weed control. 

"With most chemistries, we're required to wait until the legumes have at least two true trifoliate leaves prior to applications."

Listen to the full chat between Josh Verhoek, Elton Mayo and Dominic George above.

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