HAY: will i have to fetilise and seed if i want to cut hay again this year

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tanjar's picture
Last seen: 6 years 3 months ago
Joined: 04/05/2012 - 10:21pm
HAY: will i have to fetilise and seed if i want to cut hay again this year

hello i would like to ask a question on hay making i have a farm i purchased a few years ago the back 15 to 20 acres are seperated by a river which is quite full from june to nov-dec each year .i only stock sheep which wont cross the river when its full  so this back paddock is cut off to grow during these months  last year i got a contractor in to cut and bale this grass and got 580 bales off this paddock the resulting hay was very good and was sold for horse and cattle feed

my question is if i leave this paddock again to grow this year will it produce the same quality hay or will i need to fertilise  and or seed this year to get the same quality hay off it ? if i dont decide to do hay but leave the paddock to grow and then stock it with sheep once the river is low enough for them to cross over to it (i dont have a bridge) could i cut hay the following year with out fertillising or seeding ?

how many years could i get away with just growing and spelling with out having to out lay the cost of fertilizer and or seeding?

and if i do have to fertilise what time of year should i do this?

i am located in pinjarra western australia

thanks a lot all the best deb

rogermartyn's picture
Last seen: 5 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 20/10/2011 - 4:16pm


Hi Deb

Good questions!

Lets start with the seed first.

If the hay has been good quality, in terms of desirable pasture species you can be more or less guaranteed that you will have any amount of seed 'banked' in the soil, especially if some of the pasture went to seed, which is most probably the case if the hay had plenty of seed head in it. We tend to underestimate the amount of seed that is actually present in the soil 'seed bank'. Introducing new seed is really more of a case of introducing improved pasture species, but be aware, these invariably require adequate soil fertility to thrive.

The more important issue is soil fertility. When the soil fertility drops, the higher fertility requiring pasture plants and seeds, get competed out by those pasture plants (normally 'weeds') that are more tolerant of a low soil fertility situation.

Since you're effectively 'exporting' a good deal of the years pasture production off the pasture, in terms of hay, in the process, you are removing or 'exporting' and thereby lowering your fertility. Sorry, there's no free lunch on this one.

While you can probably get away with a year or two not fertilising, over time, the yields and quality of the hay you make will decrease. The only way to determine if and how much fertiliser to apply, is to get a soil test done, interpreted, and a fertiliser program determined that is relevant to your situation. One of the Farmstyle consultants should be able to assist you if you got a soil test, and send them the results.

As for timing of the fertiliser application, this doesn't really matter. A good time however would be immediately after the hay has been harvested, so that the fertiliser can readily get to the soil, and the pasture plants benefit from the fertiliser as they recover. Otherwise, any time prior to some rain arriving is OK but ensure the paddock is not grazed until the fertiliser is washed in, as it is not good for stock to ingest fertiliser that is still on the leaves.

Please don't hesitate to ask more questions on this, I am not at all familiar with your WA soils or environment so there may be other issues.

Also if anyone else has some ideas on this one, please post them.


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