Growth rates on free draining soils falling

Mild conditions and no rainfall in September is enabling high grass utilisation.

However, growth rates on free draining soils are beginning to fall (from >60kgs/day down to 40-45kgs). To have sufficient cover built up by balance day (when growth rates meet demand and from which point we start eating into our bank of grass), we must hit weekly targets in our grass budget. I was horrified to see a few farmers still working off their grass wedge this week – fail to plan, plan to fail. As previous growth rate predictions may be higher than actual growth rates this week; owing to the moisture deficit on some farms, supplement must be introduced.

High quality baled silage is the obvious choice, containing high energy content and adequate protein (circa 14%). For those who are not in favour of making surplus round bales during the grazing season – times of deficit should provoke some thought into how beneficial it would be to have 50 or so bales in the yard to get you out of such a hole! (dig given).

Reduce grass demand in budget by the amount of kgs Dry Matter silage fed and this will enable the budget to forward project what AFC’s and cover/cow will be going forward; this will illustrate how long supplement will be required. Check list for budget:

  • Ensure area correct (i.e. that the area in hectares correlates with measured area)
  • Stock numbers up to date
  • Growth rate predictions amended fortnightly, going by weather forecast and previous weeks growth
  • Closing cover remains on target.

In the case were cover drops significantly on farm and the required supplement is not fed to rectify feed deficit, it will be impossible to reach the target closing cover without having to house animals sooner; reducing farm profit.
Fertiliser spreading is now over for the season.

If ph is an issue on farm, apply recommended lime levels now – target ph is 6.5 (6.3 for high molybdenum soils), anything below 6.3 needs calcium now. Do not put off to spring, calcium is slow to be integrated into the soil, sooner it’s applied the better. Each year 0.4 – 0.8 tonnes lime is required per acre as Maintenance, this is due to calcium loss in the soil from nitrogen usage. Nitrogen fert creates acidity in soil around the fert granules; this acidity is corrected by calcium, gradually reducing Calcium levels in soil.

We sub soiled several paddocks this week on the farm, focusing on paddocks that cows do not perform well on and usually struggle to graze out. The soil was extremely compacted and hard to pull sub soiler through. Grazing, (primarily) and machinery on soil compress air out of the soil layers – we must lift the soil up were this is the case to force air back into the soil – otherwise plant roots cannot uptake the main crop requirements, porosity and drainage also suffers.