Top-10 tips for pasture renewal
- Identify the paddocks that are stuffed, where the grass is not growing to expectations.
- Decide whether to go through a forage crop scenario, as this will determine the timing – whether renovation starts in spring or autumn.
Damian says 50% of farmers in his area would renew pasture through a forage crop, depending on the locality, stocking rate and whether they are in a summer dry area and need the extra summer forage.
- Soil test. Correcting any problems with fertility or pH identified at this stage is well worth the money, Damian says.
- Analyse pros and cons of using minimum tillage or cultivation. Direct drilling is much cheaper but there may be other reasons for wanting to cultivate, eg to do some contouring or smoothing out in the paddock.
- Identify any pests and talk to specialists about remedies.
- Talk to the seed rep to discuss when you want the growth – early maturing/late maturing/dry tolerant/good winter growth. Have a feed graph on hand to try to match with the cultivars.
Also obtain advice on clover varieties – large leaf/highly digestible/showing maximum persistence.
- Organise the contractor well in advance and have a low residual with the paddock well eaten out when the contractor comes to spray it out.
- Have the seed ready mixed for drilling (three to four days later) and ensure the correct seeding rate.
- After drilling – don’t go to sleep on it. Monitor the crop for bugs and weeds. Damian suggests that every week you go past the crop on the way to the pub – and if you notice a problem you can consult your mates in the bar on what to do about it.
He says that if you have a problem you need to act quickly because bugs are amazing creatures – they just don’t go away.
- New grass care – treat it like a new baby, Damian says. The first grazing should be very light – sheep are the best for this but calves are the next best option.
Don’t let it get too long. First grazing should be when there is complete green coverage and it passes the pull test, usually at around 9-10cm high.
Apply the first round of nitrogen, at a low rate of 25kg/ha, after this first grazing.