11 April 1997

Win a rising plate meter worth £300

Keen to improve your grassland management? Then why not enter our FARMERS WEEKLY/Perryfields Holdings competition. Just read the rules, fill in the coupon and send it to us. You could win one of 10 rising plate meters for measuring grass growth – each one worth £300

Keen to improve your grassland management? Then why not enter our FARMERS WEEKLY/Perryfields Holdings competition. Just read the rules, fill in the coupon and send it to us. You could win one of 10 rising plate meters for measuring grass growth – each one worth £300

GRASS planning is all about estimating how much grass is available on the farm and how long it will last your stock.

Some producers use their eye to assess how much grass is available. Others measure grass more accurately. The most common method of measuring grass in New Zealand, for example, is by using a rising plate meter. This simple device measures grass height and grass density and then relates this to kg dry matter a hectare. The idea is to evaluate pasture in the same term of tonnes of dry matter that is used to assess winter forage stocks.

The most important use of the meter is to measure grass growth and average grass cover on the farm. Knowledge of how much grass there is on the farm today and how fast it is growing enables decisions to be made about how much of the diet could come from grazed grass.

Accurate planning

For accurate planning, the exact area of the paddock or farm must be known. Its then a case of multiplying the pasture cover in kg DM/ha by the paddock size to determine the total amount of feed available.

For example, if the total pasture cover in a paddock is 2500kg DM/ha and the paddock is 1.3ha, the total DM in the paddock is 3250kg DM. To establish the average farm cover, do the same calculation for each paddock on the farm and divide the total by the farm area.

Its important to check at least weekly how fast the grass is growing and what the farms average grass cover is. Try to have a target grass cover in mind to compare your measurement with – in spring aim to keep average cover between 2200kg DM/ha and 1700kg DM/ha. At this stage it is not critical if the farms cover falls to 1700kg DM/ha and there is virtually no stock of grass left. This is because by mid April daily grass growth on the farm will start to exceed that eaten by the cows on a given day. For example, grass growth is currently 40kg DM/day. For a 100-cow herd on 40ha, one days growth would provide 1600kg of grass – and stocking at 2.5 cows/ha thats enough to meet each cows daily intake of 16kg DM.

Those farmers who allow average farm covers to get too high at this stage will waste opportunities to graze grass earlier. The excess grass cover will have to be made into silage when it could have been grazed for a third of the cost.

Pasture measurements will help estimate how much grass is on the farm and how long it will last your stock.


THE RULES

1 How do you win a plate meter? Use your knowledge of grazing management and the information provided to work out the average grass cover of the example farm. Then judge whether this is within the right range for spring grazing.

2 Study these rules. Tick the box to answer yes or no on the coupon that appears in the FARMERS WEEKLY issues of Apr 11 and Apr 18.

3 There is no entry fee but each attempt must be made in ink on a coupon cut from FARMERS WEEKLY.

4 The decision of the judges and the Editor of FARMERS WEEKLY in all matters will be final and legally binding. No correspondence can be entered into.n

THE COMPETITION

The farm comprises five paddocks, the size and average grass cover of each is given below. Use this to estimate the total amount of pasture on the farm and then the average grass cover. Then decide whether this level of cover is within the correct range for spring grazing.

Paddock size x grass cover/ha

1.5ha x 2500kg DM/ha

2.5ha x 1400kg DM/ha

1.0ha x 3000kg DM/ha

1.2ha x 1800kg DM/ha

3.8ha x 2000kg DM/ha

What is the farms average grass cover kg DM/ha and is it within the right range? Yes &#42 No &#42

Name:……………………………………………………………………………………….

Address:…………………………………………………………………………………..

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…………………………………………….Post code…………………………………..

Tel:……………………………………… Fax:……………………………………………..

Post to: FARMERS WEEKLY/Plate Meter Competition, Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5AS or Fax: (0181-652 4005). Closing date: Fri, Apr 25, 1997.