After what most Gippsland farmers would consider a normal rain sodden winter, paddocks across the region have become saturated to a point that it has led to severe pasture damage, and recovery will depend on a number of factors when planning what strategies you may wish to take.
Gippsland farmer and owner of Notman Pasture Seeds Peter Notman has provided some tips for repairing pugged pastures.
Pugged pasture re-sowing options
We have observed a large amount of successful spring grass sowing during our 30 years in the field when there is good planning, timing, seed soil contact and fertility.
The spring pasture re-sowing window is short, so as soon as soils are dry enough to get machinery on the re-sowing should be implemented as fast as practical. Combined with a complete NPKS fertiliser and high quality manure to enhance germination and early growth.
Phosphorus availability to the plant is extremely important as the plant uses it for root growth and photosynthesis. Mr Notman said Phosphorus also known as P played an important role as symptoms of P deficiency include poor germination and establishment of newly sown seedlings.
Spring re-sowing can be successful when action is taken quickly. The options farmers have at their disposal include:
This option is generally only available during a small window of time and on flatter land when soil conditions are dried sufficiently to get machinery on.
Topping up for silage or hay harvest with densely tillered cultivars
Using a power harrow to level and topping pasture, farmers can boost silage and hay by topping up pasture with specialist silage/hay species. Forage Oats, Italian Ryegrass and some annual legumes are quick to establish and increase yield until soil moisture runs out in early summer. A mix of these could be sown at 60-80kg/ha.
For flexibility our number one option would be use a longer grazing season diploid italian ryegrass that is 1) quick to establish in spring and 2) densely tillered and 3) stays leafy late in the year. Vibe Italian Ryegrass plays this role well.
Complete grass renovation for severe damage
Sowing rates have range from 25kg/ha all the way to 40kg/ha with some farmers. Of course this is all dependent on your budget.
Levelling in preparation for autumn
If areas are too large to renovate to grass this spring, these areas could be identified for spring forage crop or alternatively be levelled in preparation for autumn renovation.
Re-sowing to summer forage crop
Forage crops in order of planting timing include
- Early planted mixed crops such Top Crop Brassica & Herbs
- Chicory such as Chico Chicory and Puna II Chicory which power in mid summer to early autumn
- A fast establishing Plantain, such as Oracle Plantain
- All forage brassicas, check out our full range of brassicas
- A reliable summer crop such as Top Crop Millet and Rape
- Millets and Sorghums