Winning combinations for your pasture production team

Ag Advice - March 2022

Phil Cranney, Senior Land Services Officer, Pastures

As the winter sports kick off this month, each team puts their winning combination on the field to ensure that they are in the hunt for the premiership in October.

On your farm, it is a good time to reassess your profit maximising strategy to give your business the best chance of being on the top of the ladder coming into spring.

Many cropping enterprises are reassessing their crop selection given the potential for big wheat prices, so too should livestock enterprises adjust their stocking rate to maximise pasture utilisation.

The four keys to success this playing/growing season are:

  1. Fitness and conditioning
  2. The engine room
  3. Playmakers
  4. Teamwork

The fitness and conditioning of your pastures is usually taken care of in the off-season and the previous year. Management tactics such as winter cleaning, Timerite RLEM control and spray topping, help keep your pasture strong and relatively weed and pest free for the next season. It is also important to refine that background work by acting on a soil test to eliminate any soil nutrition deficiencies in early autumn.

The “engine room” of your pasture production team are usually the players with a big motor, that are strong, reliable and hard working. Without an effective engine room, your pasture production system will struggle to produce a winning combination all year round.

The engine room typically consists of a cool season perennial grass pasture that is adapted to the soil and landscape of a particular paddock. It is also crucial that you select an “engine room” pasture that matches the coaches’ skill set. For example, if the manager has limited grazing skills, then large paddocks of fescue (used as your engine room) may lead to a decline in pasture quality at the business end of the season.

The “playmakers” of your pasture production system are typically showy, short-term, high-quality types that spend a lot of time preening in front of the mirror. Yes, ball playing prop forwards are a thing these days.

Although usually expensive to maintain, the playmakers can deliver wins when you need it most. Playmaker annual grasses and legumes in a cool season production system can provide much needed growth and quality in the depths of winter. They are therefore essential for a balanced pasture production system.

Teamwork is the catalyst to get your farm business performing at its peak. For example, when soil fertility, a cool season productive perennial grass, sub-clover and grazing management are all working together your team will make the semi-finals most years.

Getting the above four fundamental concepts right, will ensure that you are driving your farm pasture production team bus to the finals in October. Matching feed supply to feed demand is one of the most crucial roles that you will play.

If you want to know more about feed budgeting and planning for the year ahead, then enrol in our Prograze course starting at the end of the month or talk to either Phil Cranney, Clare Edwards or Brett Littler.

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