With the right planning and preparation, sowing a new pasture should deliver a significant positive return in farm productivity and economic return. Following some key steps will help achieve a successful outcome.
Taking the time to assess the state of a paddock is vital to executing a new pasture renovation. This should be carried out at least 12 months prior to sowing and ought to start with an assessment of pasture content. This includes how much and what proportion of desirable versus weed species are present. If weeds are present, it’s important to establish if they are annual, perennial, grass or broadleaf so an appropriate management plan can be put into place.
Now is also the time to be looking for any damaging pasture pests. If they are present, determine whether they are above economic thresholds for control measures.
Thirdly, soil constraints and fertility need to be considered including drainage, soil type and pH. This can be addressed by conducting a soil test then formulating a fertiliser/lime program to raise fertility and/or fix soil constraints. It is advisable to correct major issues well ahead of sowing to avoid a disappointing result. Particularly as on some soil types lime can take years to move to the sub-soil if broadcasting without incorporation.
Once the paddock has been fully assessed, an action plan can be created. A good starting point is to determine what sowing technique will be used.
Oversowing by drilling directly into the existing pasture can be a suitable option if the weed burden is low and there is a high proportion of desirable species with good soil moisture.
Termination of the existing pasture, then direct drilling into a spray-fallow may also be viable if weed-seed burden is low and there is good soil moisture with rain forecast.
Full cultivation with sowing can be best if you are wanting to incorporate lime/gypsum, smooth out the surface of the paddock, or looking to help break life-cycles for pests such as slugs, snails and some grubs.
Timing can have a major impact on the success of your new pasture stand. Early season growth can be substantial under the right soil moisture or temperature conditions, however for long-term pasture species it is more important to have the timing right than risk a failure due to dry conditions or extra weed burden.
For further advice about pasture establishment and management, contact you local Barenbrug Territory Manager.