Management

Preparation key to optimal pastures

By Dairy News

WITH HOME-GROWN feed more important than ever Notman Pasture Seeds has prepared a range of pasture planning recommendations to optimise the establishment of rye-grass pastures this season.

Notman Pasture Seeds and Walcha Dairy owner Peter Notman said there were key dynamics to maximising the establishment of rye-grass pastures.

“It’s important being organised throughout the whole process, including paddock preparation, germination, weed control and through to the first grazing,” Mr Notman said.

He advised farmers to optimise paddock potential prior to sowing by reducing unwanted trash and summer grasses such as barley grass, and maximising germination of weeds.

“A fine, firm clean seedbed and spraying out germinating weeds with a knockdown herbicide and a spike so you are ready to plant into clean paddocks.

“Under all cultivation systems the use of harrows behind the drill will improve seed to soil contact.

“For both direct drilling (25 kg/ha) and conventional sowing (30 kg/ha) ensure both seed and start-up fertiliser, generally DAP, are sown together at a depth of 10 mm to 20 mm.”

Mr Notman said through March and April successful germination also depended on good seed-soil contact to maximise soil moisture and nutrients.

Rye-grass cultivars with plenty of interest this season include Vibe Italian, Bullet Annual, Matrix enhanced perennial, Vatbuster perennial and Reward Endo 5. Continued page 24

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“These cultivars are proven grasses in the dairy sector, and their popularity has been quite organic due to their superb dry matter yields and excellent late season quality feed,” Mr Notman said.

He said controlling seedling weeds, which are often overlooked early, were also a key dynamic in establishing rye-grass pastures.

“All too often we get calls from farmers who haven’t got onto broadleaf weeds early enough and then need to salvage the situation.

“In the short-term seedling weeds vigorously compete for nutrients, moisture, light and most importantly, space.

“In the long-term poor establishment will decrease the pasture growth and an increase in chemical costs from the extra weed control down the track.”

Mr Notman said ideally, spray emerging weeds in new pasture four to eight weeks after sowing and prior to the first full grazing. Selective herbicide spikes additions can lead to the improvement the control of certain broadleaf weeds including marshmallow and chickweed.

“Avoid high rates as some temporary clover suppression may occur, but recovery is generally rapid,” he said.

Mr Notman said farmers should aim to graze new pasture with lighter stock if possible as soon as plants won’t pull out (approximately 75 mm).

“In good conditions this could be six to eight weeks after sowing.

“At our dairy at Walcha we have seen rye-grass establishing extremely quickly due to the hot and moist conditions. Urea at 80 kg/ha was applied 22 days after planting perennial rye-grass paddocks and will be grazed in approximately 30 days post sowing.”