Read the latest on the use of ‘Top Crop Millet & Rape’ forage blend with thoughts from Jonathan Town, Notman Pasture Seeds Western District Agronomist.
Summer forage crops play a critical role in delivering quality feed during a traditionally dryer time of year through the November – April period in southern Victoria, during a pasture feed-gap due to low average rainfall and higher temperatures.
This is why it is important to get feed budgeting right, whether that is for the milking herd, breeder stock or prime lambs. While conserved feed is the goal, as that preserves perennial pastures allowing them to come away again each autumn, where paddock renovations are occurring, maximising feed grown and utilised during the cropping stage is a ‘no-brainer’.
Over the last three years, I have had the pleasure of familiarising myself with the Western District, its seasonal conditions and constraints, along with its diverse land use and agricultural enterprises. This has only further highlighted what I think we can all appreciate, which is the importance of maximising production within the parameters presented to us.
This leads to my ‘go to’ forage crop and renovation tool, Top Crop – Millet & Rape, with a versatility and adaptability that is second to none. It is for this reason it is the second largest forage crop option by total hectares sown each year, only being beat by Pillar Forage Rape (within the Western District).
The beauty of Top Crop – Millet & Rape is how it can seamlessly work in so many different situations, thus its versatility.
One of its major uses is forage cropping in dairy out-block and beef/sheep environments, as the addition of millet to the forage rape minimises the potential animal health risks and increases the insect pest tolerance.
This lends itself to the realities faced in busy farming life where farmers cannot realistically always monitor herds or shift strip fences every single day, when at the back of extensive properties or away from the ‘home’ farm.
Therefore, creating the space for Top Crop – Millet & Rape as the ideal option for set-stocked or block-grazing situations. This does not rule out intensive and high-end uses where strip fencing does occur daily however, as during my days working as a Dairy Farmhand for Pete and Elaine Notman on their dairy in Walcha, Top Crop – Millet & Rape was our milking platform crop of choice.
This was due to the warmer and wetter summer conditions we usually experience up there, however there are plenty of instances of similar uses in the Western District when planting dates for crops move beyond late October.
The Top Crop – Millet & Rape forage blend is tried and tested, and has been a mainstay of forage cropping for Notman Pasture Seeds for over 20 years. With the Pillar Forage Rape and Titan Forage Rapes providing quality, regrowth, and early feed, paired with Shirohie Millet for late season growth, regrowth and fibre!
I love the ratio that we use, as it just works in whatever situation, with sowing rates from 12kg/ha in dryland situations up to 16-18kg under more favourable dryland and irrigation conditions.
And where farmers experience greater summer rainfall over in Gippsland it is not uncommon to sow at 20kg/ha. Millet and Rape is a top choice, some may even say a ’Top Crop’.
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