4 September 1998

Consider every option to get healthy growth

GRASS growth is again variable around the country depending on previous rainfall, writes BGS consultant Paul Bird. As a result, variable management is required to cope with this and options being discussed at discussion groups follow below.

Some producers trying to extend their grazing season have found themselves in one of two situations.

&#8226 Too much grass cover. Options to help deal with the current situation include:

Delay nitrogen applications to reduce growth rate. This can be risky because as soil temperature reduces growth rate is likely to decline.

Trickle nitrogen on behind cows. These paddocks will be slow to regrow, depending on when they received their last application of nitrogen.

Increase grass intake. Where silage is being fed, remove it from rations.

The last option is to take a silage cut where there is no hope of grazing all the grass.

Building high grass cover at this time of the year is only for those serious about grazing. This must be high quality grass with good access to it when conditions become wet.

&#8226 Not enough grass. Where you are trying to build grass covers after suffering from drought or perhaps too much third cut silage was made, the options include:

Long grazing rotations of 35 to 45 days are important. Use third cut silage to feed out to supply enough food for cows. Long rotations allow grass cover to build when grass growth increases after autumn rains.

Apply 50kg nitrogen/ha (40 units/acre) over the whole farm.

Whatever your grass situation management, this autumn will probably be different to last autumn. The one thing that stays the same is that where autumn grass is not of the highest quality – all green leaf – then it is not worth much.

Where you succeed in improving quality, you will be surprised how much milk is in it. &#42