Dry conditions affected most of Australia’s dairy regions over the summer and as autumn beckons what can farmers do to maximise their pasture growth and business profitability? Richard Romano, Dairy Australia’s Program Manager for Feedbase and Animal Nutrition, shares some expert tips in a short podcast.
First, farmers should carefully assess their paddocks to determine pasture health. Quick action needs to be taken if pasture has thinned out.
“A rule of thumb is there should be less than a hand-span width between healthy, active plants, and if there is more than a hands span between you need to take action to renovate those pastures,” said Mr Romano.
Special care needs to be taken with sacrifice areas if used over the dry summer to ease the pressure on the rest of the pastures.
“Sacrifice areas are most often chosen because they were already a priority for renovating, so take a close look and determine what your program is going to be to sow soon to reap the full benefit of those nutrients,” said Mr Romano.
“Concentrated urine and dung mean sacrifice areas can be high in potassium, so be careful not to use those areas for cows that are springers or calving down,” he said.
From a business and profit perspective, leaving a thinned out pasture costs farmers more in lost income than the investment needed to renovate.
”If we think about losing 25% of pasture in a thinned out paddock, where we might have been producing 8 tonnes of pasture, that’s 2 tonnes lost, and buying in 2 tonnes of feed, the costs soon add up. Far better to utlise your funds to renovate and create healthy and productive pasture through autumn and into next spring,” said Mr Romano.
There’s more information on the Dairy Australia website but also talk to your local pasture agronomists who can help you with local tips on what to do to reinvigorate your pastures.