PREPARED BY PETER NOTMAN & ADAM FISHER
The aim on most farms would have to be more home grown feed, therefore achieving a greater amount of total energy harvested per Ha. With this in mind, the main ingredients for a successful pasture crop need to be:
- Good plant coverage of ground.
- The appropriate plant material
- Adequate soil fertility and condition, P. K. S, pH etc
- Nitrogen at 1-1.5 Kg/day when moisture is available
- Have stocking rate to consume this feed
These are the known factors that influence pasture growth and consumption. Any of these that are under your control need to be addressed.
SETTING TARGET DATES FOR YOUR PASTURE PLAN
- Pastures need to be short.
- Spray out with Glyphosate 450 or 540 if required
- Add fertiliser and sow pasture seed. Rotation 22 to 30 days. Sacrifice paddocks can save pastures in extremely dry season.
- Consider using the innovative Barrier U2 endophyte grass if insect pests such as Cockchafers or African Black Beetles are a problem.
- Continue sowing
- Monitor for pest e.g. Earth mite, Lucerne flea, Grubs or slugs, take action if required. See our AgChemical list
- Graze when plants will not pull out.
- Graze new pastures as early as possible, control weeds and pests, apply fertiliser.
- Plan your Gibberellic Acid application to grow more winter feed through to September – Accelerate 200SG Gibberellic Acid
- Rotation 25 to 35 days.
- From then on graze, apply fertiliser, all weeds should now be controlled.
- Rotation 28 to 38 days.
Successful germination of seed depends on good contact between the seed and the soil to maximize soil moisture and nutrients. For both direct drilling and conventional sowing to ensure both seed and fertiliser are sown together at a depth of around 10mm.
PERMANENT PASTURE ESTABLISHMENT OF RYEGRASS AND WHITE CLOVER
Permanent pasture establishment requires more attention to detail than annual pastures. Here are some key points:
- Timing, be opportunistic. March-April key times to plant.
- Pre-planting, weed control, use Glyphosate 540
- Address drainage and soil fertility issues.
- Ensure seed soil contact, light harrow and roll.
- Monitor and control pests, seek advice.
- Post planting week control, often selective broad leaf herbicide.
- Graze as soon as plants won’t pull out approx. 75mm (3 inches).
- Avoid pugging, continue to monitor soil fertility.
Permanent pasture is still the mainstay feed of the Gippsland dairy industry and protecting pastures from over grazing and weed infestation is of upmost importance. There is great opportunity to increase yield in general but I believe in July growth rates of 40kg/ha should be achieved therefore achieving one tonne of pasture grown per month during this period.
ESTABLISHING RYEGRASS WITHOUT CLOVER
- Use DAP at 150 kg/ha if Olsen P is below 20. If 20 – 25 use 80kg/ha. If 25+ use 20Kg/ha.
- Drill into soils to one cm depth, prefer dry soils and low pasture cover.
- Spray green growing pasture with Glyphosate at 150 ml/ha this would suit both dryland & irrigation when there is no more than 15% fibrous rooted grasses.
- If flood irrigation has a large amount of summer grasses e.g., Paspalum, Couch ECT cultivation after heavy Glyphosate application would be preferred
- If spraying only then increase sowing rate by 50 %. This method applies for dryland bent grass areas also.
- In Gippsland, High rainfall sow before mid-April. In the low rainfall areas sow before end of April, worked soil gives better results.
- In Macalister irrigation it is important to have planted before mid-April, so plants can be established before frost cools soils.
- Seed rates, Direct drilling 25 kg/ha – Cultivated soils 30 kg/ha.
- Fertilise for high yields, growth for short terms up to 50Kg DM/ha/day.
- Use Nitrogen at 25 – 40Kg N per month if feed can be utilized.
- Phosphorus, Potassium and Sulphur – use soil test to determine rates.
- Control weeds e.g. Capeweed when plants are 25 to 50 mm high.
- Graze early, as soon as plants won’t pull out. (75mm – 3 inches).
- Do not drill into soils with root – mat.
PASTURE ESTABLISHMENT IN ROOT MAT SOILS
Most root mat soils have low soil PH. If PH is below 5.4 in (water) apply 2.5 tonne / Ha of fine lime and incorporate this into the soil prior to planting. Not controlling existing pasture or not breaking down root mat often causes failures when direct drilling pastures.
The use of a high application rate of Glyphosate followed 10 days later by two passes with a disc, this could be followed by a power harrow and a seed box. The soil clump size should not be more than 5 cm. After sowing harrow with mesh and roll.
PLANTING PASTURES IN IRRIGATED SOILS.
The planting window is wide for spray irrigation, from mid to late February to late April. The ideal timing to optimize the result is considered to be Mid-March for autumn. If flood irrigation has a large amount of summer grasses e.g., Paspalum, Couch ECT cultivation after heavy Glyphosate application would be preferred, if spraying only then increase sowing rate by 50 %.
When there is no more than 15% of the area covered with fibrous rooted grasses and pasture cover is low spray pasture with Glyphosate at 150 ml/ha, the next day pasture can be drilled then irrigated. Around 8 to 10 days later this can be grazed. Fertiliser as per standard recommendations.
SELECTING RYEGRASS CULTIVARS BOTH LONG AND SHORT TERM
Past selection guides have often talked about when do you require the extra feed, winter or late in the season? Early seeding cultivars have often been suggested to be more persistent in dry environments. These early flowering grasses cease growing generally before moisture starts to decline. They have poorer quality and in many cases are 1.5 MJME lower than the later season cultivars. Main aim is to grow feed every day moisture is available.
With this in mind we are for Dairy mostly recommending late flowering cultivars for perennial ryegrass.
These cultivars seed on average at least 21 days later than Nui and can remain at an energy content of 11.5 MJME even into the early December period. Early season cultivars like Kangaroo Valley would be close to 3 MJME/kg lower at this stage.
For annual pastures the same principle applies, however when cropping within six months of planting date, an early season cultivar could be used in this case.
- We believe these late flowering perennial ryegrasses are as persistent as most early flowering cultivars and can deliver a lot more energy over the season.
- With the short-term ryegrass late flowering cultivars are generally more persistent also.
WHY USE SHORT TERM RYEGRASS
Short team ryegrasses are generally used in areas where there is trouble getting persistence with perennials this could be mostly be caused by lack of soil moisture and or occasionally too much moisture causing pugging. Often farms where there is a calving pattern requiring a high winter feed requirement use long season Italian ryegrasses it’s important not to use Annuals unless cropping again next spring.
Italian Ryegrass – Use long season cultivars such as Surge or Megabite Premium. Excellent growth in Late Autumn, winter and early spring compared to Perennials.
Annual Ryegrass – Plant when quick autumn and winter feed is required and you are planning to crop in spring. Use Bullet or Winterbite