What is the best pasture for my area

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10 years 10 months
Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 10/15/2011 - 09:33

What is the best pasture for my area

I have a 300acre farm at Biarra just outside of Esk in the Brisbane valley(SE QLD).

We run Santa , Droughtmaster X cows and calves, what is the best pasture to plant to improve my country for this area with the least soil disturbance?

Last seen: 12/26/2018 - 09:21
Joined: 05/31/2011 - 09:44

Thanks for the question. To provide you with the best answer to your question I will require some further information, including:

  • Average rainfall (any access to irrigation)
  • Soil type (or other soil information pH)
  • Grazing management (continuous, rotational, set stocked)
  • Previous fertiliser history and intended fertiliser practice
  • Seasonal feed shortage (winter or early spring)

Any other information that you may think is useful.

I know what you mean about average rainfall, in 2009 we had 10 inches for the year and towards the end of 2010 we had 10 inches in 3 weeks.

If you don't want to disturb the soil the best idea is to improve the existing grasses that you already have growing on the farm. There are two ways of doing this, by adding fertiliser and legumes. An application of Superphosphate at 100-150kg/ha (Phosphorus, Sulphur) will dramatically increase the production and carry capacity of the grasses. If your soil is acidic (<5pH) and has high aluminium levels (>5%), including 25 grams of Molybdenum will assist in the nitrogen fixation process (check this using a soil test). Legumes fix their own nitrogen, once the plant dies and breaks down this nitrogen becomes available to other grasses, improving quality and productivity.

To ensure the successful establishment of legumes you need to reduce the vigour of the existing grasses through the use of chemicals, burning, mulching, slashing or if none of these are possible, hard grazing. This is necessary as young establishing seedlings do not compete well with existing plants. Broadcasting the legumes using a spreader will be the best application method, you could mix the legume seed in with the fertiliser and broadcast them together.

Some species (I would do a small area first and check the results) that may be worth trying include:

  • White clover (3-4kg/ha) on the creeks and river flats, broadcast in autumn.
  • Siratro (3-5kg/ha) for higher areas, broadcast in spring.
  • Style (3-5kg/ha) for higher areas, broadcast in spring.

 NB: Please not that all legumes need to be innoculated with the correct bacteria strain, prior to sowing to ensure they fix nitrogen. This can be carried out by the company that you purchase the seed from (usually called coated seed) or done by yourself if you purchase bare seed, using a cement mixer.

Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 10/15/2011 - 09:33

Charlie,

What is average rainfall these days, last year we had 23 in in 3 days ! which would usually be a years worth.

The soil type varies but is mainly a grey loamy soil. There has never been any fertilizer applied or any irrigation available.

The country is mainly spear grass and not on a rotational grazing plan. I have hand planted kikuya runners in the lower country and some generic pasture seed where i have disturbed the soil with a dozer while pushing up old timber. Both seem to be doing fairly well being planted by hand.

Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 10/20/2011 - 16:16

Here's something that will get the brain juices flowing when it comes to grass species possibilities. At this stage not a serious recommendation but certainly something to try and get your head around and at least consider as a possibility!

http://www.erathearth.com/Serengeti-Style%20Grazing.pdf

What it is about is using Bermuda grass as for grazing. Bermuda grass Cynodon dactylon also known as Bahama Grass,Couch Grass, and Indian Doab and is probably considered by most as a weed grass, or perhaps a lawn grass, but hardly a grass suitable for grazing!!!  Bermuda grass is however a C4 plant, ie, really efficient at photosynthesis in warm - hot conditions, so is similar to Kikuya in this regard. Kikuya is a grass that tends to dominate the coastal regions of warm subtropical to tropical areas; is very summer dominant and tends to 'take over farms' and dominate pastures  but it grows incredibly quickly in warm moist conditions and tolerate dry conditions without dieing, offering good feed potential for summer. However in winter (if cool), it has very poor to nil growth. Kikuya also tends to have poor feed value and when growing rapidly after an extended dry period, can be toxic to animals due to excessive nitrate content. However if kept short and grazed (or mowed) frequently, it actually offers reasonable  feed value, and will grow when  non C4 - heat tolerant grasses like rye grass will not. It is therefore favoured by many farmers who argue it is way better to have Kikuya growing than no grass at all.

The article on Bermuda grass suggests that its nutritional value is actually quite good, but I would think that like Kikuya, it probably becomes very poor if allowed to get too long. It also emphasises that warm conditions and moisture are vital for Bermuda grass to perform. For all that, the stock carrying capacity potential looks to be phenomenal when well managed . The biological aspects of the article are another topic, and I doubt they are essential for its success as a grass feed but that is just supposition at this stage. However the biological interactions between the pasture and animal microbes hinted at in the article make fascinating reading and are indeed part of the amazing posibilities and opportunities that biological farming probably hold. Any comments out there on this??

Roger Martyn

Last seen: 12/13/2011 - 13:08
Joined: 12/13/2011 - 12:50

Having grown up in the Brisbane Valley (near Somerset dam) and working as an extension officer this is a key question.

I would recommend first of all going to www.pastureicker.com.au and finding out what suits you. It will depend on the land type mix on your property but I assume we're talking blue gums on alluvial plains, ironbark and spotted gum ridges and maybe some tall open forest.

In the lighter higher soils you will struggle to get a lot other than rhodes, forest blue and black spear to really take hold. Add a legume as already stated to boost soil fertility and animal performance, siratro is a given in your area but burgundy bean and a few others may work.

If you have black soil flats then you could go creeping blue, but woudl also mix in rhodes, forest blue and black spear.

 

Please feel free to get in contact with me directly at ian.mcconnel@deedi.qld.gov.au as I am very familiar with that area and would love to help.

Cheers

Ian

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