INCREASE IN PERENNIAL GRASS WEEDS IN SOUTHERN TABLELANDS
First Published September 2012

Whilst there is plenty of emphasis on the control of broadleaf weeds in perennial pastures, the invasion of perennial grass weeds, such as serrated tussock & African lovegrass is an insidious problem that can be easily overlooked. These perennial grass weeds can be more devastating than annual broadleaf weeds, due to their competitive nature, persistence & ability to produce large amounts of seed which can persist for several years. Here are a few facts on each of these perennial grass weeds to consider.
Serrated tussock: When identifying serrated tussock, it can appear very similar to many native perennial grasses (e.g. poa species, Stipa/Spear grass). The main distinguishing feature of the plant is a white hairless ligule & a pale bleached root system. Plants are very difficult to pull from the ground due to the extensive root system. In addition, serrated tussock has the following characteristics:
· Prolific seeder: A single mature plant can produce up to 100 000 seeds per year. Seeds can remain viable for up to 12-18 months;
· It infests high & low productivity country;
· It is difficult & costly to control, particularly on non-arable land supporting native perennial grasses;
· It has a low feed value & is unpalatable to livestock.
African lovegrass: African lovegrass can be easily confused with other tussock-like grasses such as Poa tussock. Its distinguishing characteristic is the curley, slender leaves, as its botanical name suggests (Eragrostis curvula). In addition, African lovegrass has the following characteristics:
· Seed germination declines with age; however some seed can remain viable for up to 17 years;
· Can be nutritious for livestock when kept short & leafy;
· It is difficult & costly to control, particularly on non-arable land supporting native perennial grasses;
· Prefers low fertility acidic or sandy soil types.
Control options:
The control options for both of these perennial grass weeds are similar & include:
· Cultivation/chipping;
· Herbicide application: using selective herbicide (flupropanate, under various trade names including Tussock, Taskforce & Kennock). This herbicide will not damage introduced perennial grasses (e.g. phalaris, cocksfoot) or established clover, but will damage native grasses such as microlaena (weeping grass) & Danthonia (wallaby grass). This is not an issue when spot spraying, but can be more difficult in native perennial grasses when boom spraying. Flupropanate enters the plant through the leaves and roots but may take three months to have a noticeable effect and up to 18 months to kill the plant. Glyphosate is also effective at controlling these perennial grasses but is non-selective.;
· Pasture management: to favour desirable species in the pasture, topdress regularly with fertilizer, such as Superphosphate & use strategic grazing to maintain 100% ground cover (as seedlings of serrated tussock & African lovegrass compete poorly in vigorous pastures).
· Afforestation: radiate pines can be used as an effective monoculture to shade out these perennial grasses.
For further information on serrated tussock & African lovegrass, contact Landmark Daniel Walker to arrange an appointment with their consulting agronomist, Roger Garnsey.

 

SUMMER CROPPING WITH FORAGE BRASSICAS

First Published September 2013

Despite the winter cold, now is the time to start paddock preparations for summer cropping.  The most commonly used summer crop in the Braidwood area is forage brassica, and with good reason.  It is one of the least expensive options for growing high quality feed over the summer months (refer Table 1) as the quality of perennial pastures is declining.

Table 1: Feed value of summer crops.

Crop Protein
(%)
Digestibility (%) ME
(MJ ME/kg DM)
Cost (c/kg/DM) Cost
(c/MJ ME)
Green pasture 22 82 12
Forage brassica 16 82 12 5.7 0.48
Turnips 12 88 13 4 0.31
Maize 8 71 10 6.5 0.65
Millet 10 65 9 8 0.89
Sorghum 1121 65 9 6.5 0.72
Barley 12 82 12 20 1.67
Hay 11 59 8 10 0.25
Silage 15 71 10 10 1.00

Paddock Preparation
Paddocks are often sown to forage brassicas as part of the cropping program to reduce weed problems and prepare paddocks for subsequent pasture sowing or cereal establishment. If possible avoid sowing brassicas on to westerly aspects as these do not hold as much moisture during the summer as other aspects. Sowing into paddocks which have a greater ability to retain moisture will ensure more water is available for crop growth during summer. Also avoid paddocks suffering from high soil acidity (soil pHCaCl < 4.60, Aluminium >5%).
Updated Varieties:
Forage brassicas can be divided into 5 main groups: forage rape, leafy turnips, kale, turnips & swedes. For the tablelands, forage rape & leafy turnips are the most appropriate choice, given our soils & climate. There are several commercial varieties available which vary in their time to grazing (or maturity period) as follows:
1. Forage rape:has a stem with the growing point at the stem. Longer maturity of 8-14 weeks from sowing to grazing. Forage rapes have a distinct trait that when mature, the leaves turn from purple to a bronze colour. Grazing should not commence until maturity to avoid animal health issues. Varieties for this area include:
(i) Winfred: older variety (bred in 1977), with good regrowth after grazing & drought tolerance. 8-10 week maturity;
(ii) Greenland: more recent, higher yielding, taller variety, 10-12 week maturity;
(iii) Titan: more recent, intermediate height rape, bred for improved stock acceptance. 10-12 week maturity.;
(iv) Goliath: taller forage rape, bred for cattle grazing. 12-14 week maturity.
2. Hybrid leafy turnip:does not have a stem, with the growing point close to the ground. Earlier maturity than forage rape (6-8 week ripening or maturity period from sowing to grazing). As for forage rape, grazing should not commence until maturity to avoid animal health issues. Varieties for this area include:
(i) Pasja & Hunter: rapid maturing forage brassicas with similar growth characteristics.
(ii) Pacer: higher yielding replacement for Pasja;
(iii) Pasja II: bred to reduce the on-set of bolting compared to Pasja.

Do’s & Don’t’s when Growing Forage Brassicas:
There are a few golden rules when growing forage brassicas.  These include:

  • Always do a fodder budget first!  Calculate the area of brassica required to finish the number of stock held on farm;
  • Don’t allow stock sudden, unrestricted access to forage brassicas;
  • Feed extra fibre while grazing forage brassica crops to maximize stock performance;
  • Vaccinate stock before introduction to forage brassicas to minimize risk of pulpy kidney and general ill health;
  • Provide access to good quality water when grazing forage brassica;
  • Consider using coated brassica seed (e.g. Ultrastrike or Gaucho treated seed) when direct drilling to improve seedling establishment.

For further information on forage brassicas, contact Landmark Daniel Walker to arrange an inspection of your paddock with their consulting agronomist, Roger Garnsey.

MAKING THE MOST FROM SOIL TESTING THIS SPRING
First Published September 2014
The upcoming spring is shaping up to be a boomer, & with stocking rates at their peak in the district, it is timely to organise soil testing for your property to maximize pasture growth. However, it is important to take a planned approach to soil testing to get the most out of the information, rather than randomly selecting paddocks. Some factors to consider before conducting soil testing this spring:
1.      Understand what you want to achieve: Soil tests are often the first point in property planning, used to assess land capability, help make landscape management decisions and as a diagnostic tool in the case of poor plant performance.
2.      Prioritise paddocks: It is not usually practical to soil test each paddock annually. Choose several representative paddocks on the property to provide a guide to the fertility status on your farm
For example: 1 x introduced pasture, 1 x native pasture, 1 x lucerne paddock
and/or taking into account soil type difference: 1 x creek flats, 1 x light ridges).
3.      Regularly test your soils: Accurately identify the location by GPS or landmark so they can be re-tested periodically at the same time of year. This will reduce the error associated with soil sampling & provide information on changing nutrient trends over time.
Remember: soil testing can be best described as a ‘blunt tool’ designed to provide a guide to the soil’s nutrient levels. It may take several years to see trends but this is when the value of soil testing is maximised.
4.      Take samples correctly: Normal soil testing takes samples from 0–10cm depth. Deeper soil tests are from between 10–20cm. Ensure the samples are representative of the area, avoiding gullies, stock camps and all high nutrient load areas, e.g. ground around water troughs, gateways etc.
Call Landmark Daniel Walker today to get the best out of your soils with their consulting agronomist, Roger Garnsey.

PRODUCER TRIAL WORK

First Published September 2014

Evergraze producer demonstrations: The effect of grazing intensity on production and profit from native pastures at Orange was examined under a low intensity (1-Paddock), medium intensity (4-Paddock) & high intensity (20-Paddock) grazing system. The findings were as follows:

  • As the grazing intensity increased, there was more feed on offer and stocking rates increased;
  • pasture quality and individual animal performance increased with lower grazing intensity;
  • Higher production per Ha with increased grazing intensity: Average sale weight of lambs per ha (kg lamb/ha) increased with increasing grazing intensity. Lamb sale weight was higher as lambs were retained for longer.
  • Higher margins and reduced variability with increased grazing intensity: The high intensity (20-Paddock) grazing system carried a higher stocking rate than the 1-Paddock and 4-Paddock systems; and lambs were retained after weaning and grown to a greater weight.
  • Where substantial investment in infrastructure is required for implementation, return on investment is marginal.

MLA producer demonstration at Manjimup, WA:  An MLA sponsored trial compared the control (traditional low stocking rate of 0.8 cow/ha, no lime, low fertiliser) with a higher input system (higher stocking rate of 1.1 cows/ha, higher fertiliser & lime rates & use of Nitrogen). Findings from this trial were as follows:

  • Over the 3 years, the cumulative gross margin for the higher input treatment was $176/ha. Of this, $122/ha came in the final year where calf weights were 20 kg/head higher in the high input system compared to the control;
  • The cost of establishing the perennial pastures in the high input system was repaid in 3 years.

For further information on these valuable trials, call me.

Landmark Daniel Walker’s consulting agronomist Roger Garnsey

IT’S ALL IN THE TIMING WHEN IT COMES TO OPTIMUM HERBICIDE PERFORMANCE

First Published September 2015

The performance of a herbicide is dependent on a range of factors, but one of the most critical is timing.  Paraquat (the active constituent in products such as Sprayseed & Gramoxone) is a contact herbicide which inhibits photosynthesis in the plant to produce free radicals which damage cell membranes. These contact herbicides are used in a range of situations for broad spectrum, knockdown annual weed control

Paraquat requires sunlight for activity, however research in Australia, the United States & Japan has shown that spraying paraquat towards the end of the daylight hours (or on cloudy days) can boost the efficacy of weed control. Paraquat diffuses through leaf tissue in cell walls, but as cells desiccate this limits how far it can penetrate into the plant.

The reason for improved activity under lower light intensity is because paraquat’s fast speed of action is slowed, allowing slower desiccation  of the weeds which facilitates further movement through weeds to give a more thorough kill when the sun rises the following day.

IMPROVED INSECT & WEED CONTROL IN FORAGE BRASSICAS THIS SPRING

First Published September 2016

With many growers considering sowing summer forages to provide high quality summer feed, there are improved weed & insect control options this year.

ForageMax is a new herbicide solution for in-crop broadleaf weed control in forage brassicas. Some quick facts on ForageMax:

  • A single use rate of 100 mL/ha + 1 L Uptake Spraying Oil/100 L;
  • Grazing withholding period: 14 days;
  • Applied on forage brassicas from 4-8 leaf
  • Provides effective control of many broadleaf weeds when applied to small, actively growing weeds (2-6 true leaves):

For further information on getting the most out of your summer forage crop this year, call Landmark Daniel Walker or their consulting agronomist, Roger Garnsey on 0429 625 880.

FEED TEST PADDOCKS FOR THE UPCOMING HAY & SILAGE SEASON
October 2015

We often consider testing stored fodder (cereal grains, hay & silage) for quality before feeding to livestock. However, it is worth considering sampling your pasture or fodder crop this spring, especially for those paddocks intended for hay or silage.
By sampling your silage or hay paddocks prior to cutting, you’ll be better informed to answer some fundamental questions:
1. Is my pasture good enough to feed my stock?
2. Is my pasture as good as I am budgeting?
3. Should I silage paddock 1 or paddock 2?
4. Will this paddock make poor, average of very good hay/silage?
Feedtest offers a range of test packages to test the quality of your crop/pasture, but the most common test used is the Fodder quality (NIR) test. The NIR will test for the following quality parameters:

  • Crude Protein (CP)
  • Neutral Detergent Fibre (NDF)
  • Digestibility of Dry Matter (DDM)
  • Digestibility of Organic Dry Matter (DOMD)
  • Metabolisable Energy (ME)
  • Moisture content & dry matter

Lab results can be back to you within 24 hours of receiving samples (if you’re in a rush) for $84.70, or $60.50 for a 3 day turn around.
Your report will also include a brief explanation of your results, & if you require any further clarification, you can always contact the Feedtest team.
To provide an accurate sample, collect forage samples within 1-2 weeks of harvesting as follows:

  • 5cm above the soil level, collecting 15-20 samples randomly around the paddock;
  • Cut samples into 5 cm lengths so it fits in the sample bag & wrap in paper;
  • Label sample bag & complete the submission form;
  • Keep sample in freezer until posting to the following address:

Feed Central, Reply Paid 89091, Shepparton Vic 3630
For any further information on fodder testing, please contact Landmark’s consulting agronomist, Roger Garnsey on 0429 625880.

PRODUCER TRIAL WORK DEMONSTRATES INCREASED RETURNS

October 2014

Whilst company R & D projects often provide the bulk of the information on product performace, there is some excellent producer trial work which supplements this information, Here are a couple of examples which have demonstrated increased returns from more intensive grazing systems.
Evergraze producer demonstrations:The effect of grazing intensity on production and profit from native pastures at Orange was examined under a low intensity (1-Paddock), medium intensity (4-Paddock) & high intensity (20-Paddock) grazing system. The findings were as follows:
·  As the grazing intensity increased, there was more feed on offer and stocking rates increased;
· pasture quality and individual animal performance increased with lower grazing intensity;
· Higher production per hectare with increased grazing intensity: Average sale weight of lambs per ha (kg lamb/ha) increased with increasing grazing intensity. Lamb sale weight was higher because lambs were retained for longer after weaning.
· Higher margins and reduced variability with increased grazing intensity: The high intensity (20-Paddock) grazing system carried a higher stocking rate than the 1-Paddock and 4-Paddock systems; and lambs were retained after weaning and grown to a greater weight.
· Where substantial investment in infrastructure is required for implementation, return on investment is marginal.
MLA producer demonstration at Manjimup, WA:  On the other side of the continent in WA, an MLA sponsored trial compared the control (traditional low stocking rate of 0.8 cow/ha, no lime, low fertiliser) with a higher input system (involving a higher stocking rate of 1.1 cows/ha, higher fertiliser & lime rates & use of Nitrogen). Findings from this trial were as follows:
· Over the 3 years of the trial, the cumulative gross margin for the higher input treatment was $176/ha. Of this, $122/ha came in the final year where calf weights were 20 kg/head higher in the high input system compared to the control;
· The cost of establishing the perennial pastures in the high input system was repaid in 3 years.
These consistent trial results across a range of climatic zones indicate production gains can be achieved in grazing systems in a sustainable effort to increase farm profitability. For further information on these valuable trials, call Roger Garnsey, Landmark Daniel Walker’s consulting agronomist.

MAXIMUM NPACT SHOWING PROMISING RESULTS IN BRAIDWOOD

First Published October 2014

Following the release of the Loveland range of products through the Landmark network, several of the products designed to boost the pasture/crop growth have been tested in 2013 & 2014 at Braidwood.

Of these products, Maximum N-Pact has been used extensively in the local area & producers have reported promising results. In response to this producer demand, Landmark consulting agronomist, Roger Garnsey, has been trialing Maximum N-Pact with different combinations of other Loveland products in demonstration trials, producing significant results.

Maximum N-Pact is a foliar applied Nitrogen source, containing 24% Nitrogen which is stable & highly compatible. The benefits of Maximum N-Pact include:

  • Increased uptake – 29% better absorption rate
  • Improved translocation in the plant – 44% better translaminar activity than Nitrate Nitrogen;
  • Reduced volatility & excellent crop safety;
  • Highly compatible with fungicides/insecticides

Demonstration trials have been established in 2013 & 2014 at properties in the Braidwood area. Several treatments were applied to Italian ryegrass & established perennial pastures (phalaris, cocksfoot, fescue & clovers) & dry matter cuts collected to determine if a significant effect could be recorded against the untreated/control plot. Table 1 (overleaf) provides a summary of the effects observed from these demonstration trials over two years.

In summary the demonstration trials have shown that the Loveland products have the capacity to increase winter dry matter production in the Braidwood area at very low cost. In particular, Maximum N-Pact when combined with Nutrisync M, Black Label Zinc or Foundation LM looks encouraging & appears to be providing a more consistent DM response than Maximum N-Pact alone.

Landmark Daniel Walker’s consulting agronomist Roger Garnsey

PERENNIAL PASTURE TRIAL

First Published October 2015

With the increasing list of pasture varieties on the market, Landmark Daniel Walker has recently established a perennial pasture trial in the Braidwood area. Under the guidance of our consulting agronomist, Roger Garnsey, the following extensive list of perennial pastures has been sown:

  • 9 phalaris varieties
  • 11 perennial ryegrasses
  • 12 tall fescue varieties
  • 2 new festulolium varieties
  • 10 cocksfoots
  • 5 varieties of brome grass & prairie grass;
  • 7 chicory/plantain varieties;
  • 15 clover/pasture legumes;
  • 11 lucerne varieties
  • 8 perennial pasture mixes

This trial will provide several major benefits to local farmers, including:

  • an opportunity for graziers to see the latest pasture varieties first hand in their own environment;
  • evaluate the persistence of pasture varieties, as the trial will be run over several years;
  • trial various pasture products (e.g. fertilisers, pesticides) in our local environment over different pasture varieties & provide feedback to growers.

So keep an eye out for future field days on the Landmark Daniel Walker Perennial Pasture Trial. For any further information on the trial, please contact Landmark’s consulting agronomist, Roger Garnsey on 0429 625 880.

 

FORAGE BRASSICA: GRAZING MANAGEMENT

First Published October 2016

Forage brassicas can provide a large bulk of high quality feed over spring & summer. This feed is typically low in dry matter but also high in energy & protein. Due to low fibre levels, passage through the animal is rapid & nutrients are not well absorbed. By providing a source of fibre, such as hay, the passage of green feed through the digestive tract is slowed, allowing improved absorption of nutrients as well as reducing the overall intake of excess protein.
With such a dramatic change in the diet, livestock can often take several days to adjust to this highly digestible, elevated protein source. To minimise livestock stress & improve acceptance by livestock & minimise impacts during the adjustment period onto the crop, an ‘induction’ program is suggested. This is not complicated, but involves some key management principles which balances ammonia levels in the gut to energy (or starch in the diet) to maximise weight gains in livestock from day 1 on introduction onto the crop. Sheep are more selective grazing animals & are more responsive to elevated nitrate levels in the crop, whilst cattle can tend to gorge leafy crops as they are less selective in their grazing habits. As such, grazing forage brassica crops with cattle requires careful introduction & grazing management of the crop. There are the usual things like:
· Always 5 in 1 stock before grazing;
· Introduce stock slowly for the first 3-5 days e.g. put in for only a few hours in the morning, then lock them out for the remainder of the day;
· Don’t introduce animals on the crop hungry e.g. fill them up on hay beforehand or good quality pasture. This is particularly important with cattle;
· Provide a run off paddock with plenty of dry feed (e.g. sprayfallowed paddock next door) + some ‘rough’ hay i.e. not good quality lucerne, just cereal or pasture hay for additional fibre. This causes the animal to chew its cud more (which adjusts rumen pH), improving digestion, liveweight gains & reducing scouring.
· Ensure plenty of good quality water.  They drink heaps on brassicas
· Improve utilisation of the crop with electric fencing by splitting the paddock up into smaller areas & concentrating stock into these areas.
In addition, consider the following induction program for introduction of cattle & sheep onto forage brassica crops this spring/summer:
· 2-3 days before introducing livestock, have them in a holding yard/paddock/laneway & provide cereal hay through feeders with plenty of good quality water. This is a particularly good strategy for the transition from weaning to introduction to a forage brassica crop, as it reduces stress in the animals, resulting in improved liveweight gains. For growers looking for superior liveweight gains, cracked/rolled grain can also be used at this point but this requires careful management to avoid acidosis. For further information, please contact me before using grain as part of the induction of animals onto summer crops;
· Avoid introducing stock (particularly cattle) onto forage brassica crops early in the morning, as nitrate levels tend to be higher at this time of the day. Introduce livestock around lunchtime to minimise this effect;
· Provide high Magnesium licks 10 days before introduction to the forage brassica;
· Double dose of B12, 5 in 1 vaccine & backline before grazing. For young animals, include Vitamin A, D & E injections;
· Consider use of feed supplements, such as Generade (high starch/Magnesium feed supplement) 2-3 days before grazing forage brassica to reduce animal stress & improve crop acceptance. Refer to the following for further info:
http://www.northernab.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/OZ-GEN-PELLET-PTCS.pdf
· Consider use of feed supplements, such as Grazemax Ultra (for adult animals) & Weanermax (for weaners) for improved utilisation of the forage brassica. Refer to the following websites:
http://www.animalinnovations.com.au/assets/oz-gmax-ultra-lkcs.pdf
http://www.animalinnovations.com.au/assets/oz-wmax-catalyst-lkcs.pdf
These are suggested feed supplements & certainly are not the only options available on the market. However, these products have some trial work & local experience behind them. For further information, please call Landmark Daniel Walker or their consulting agronomist, Roger Garnsey on 0429625880.

SEEDLING PHALARIS SURVIVAL OVER SUMMER

First Published November 2014

Phalaris-based pastures have increased in popularity with graziers as they seek improved production combined with pasture species persistence. As we head into another hot, dry summer this year, the question of summer dormancy & survival of newly sown pastures comes to mind.

Most perennial pastures are traditionally sown in autumn but may, on occasion be delayed until late winter or early spring. Research clearly shows that earlier sown perennial pastures have a greater chance of surviving the ensuing hot, dry summer period than later sown pastures.

Trials have shown that sowing up until early July resulted in all plants turning reproductive (Hoen, 1968). The proportion of reproductive plants declines sharply the later they are sown after mid-July. As a guide, a productive phalaris pasture will support about 20–30 plants/m2.

For perennial plants to survive over summer they need to have either a very deep root system with access to sufficient soil moisture or have some form of summer dormancy. Dormancy in phalaris is centered around a tuber with associated dormant buds which form at the base of flowering tillers during seed set. The tuber stores food reserves to initiate shoot development which occurs once dormancy has lifted after the season breaks.

The tuber allows the plant to dramatically reduce green leaf area and subsequent water use over the hot dry months. Plants that do not have tubers and remain vegetative must have sufficient available soil moisture to maintain green leaf area over summer in order to survive. Tillers only form tubers and resting buds if they become reproductive. Hence, it is important to allow the plant to flower and set seed to maximise the size of tubers and the number of dormant buds.

Reference: Hoen, K. (1968) The effect of plant size and development stage on summer survival of some perennial grasses. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture and Animal Husbandry 8:190.

 

BioAg FERTILISER: A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE OPTION FOR TOPDRESSING PASTURES
First Published October 2013

BioAg, based at Narrandera in the Riverina, produces a range of rock Phosphate & liquid fertiliser products for the agricultural market. Of particular relevance to the Braidwood area are two products, BioAg Superb & BioAgPhosS10, which offer a viable, cost effective alternative to Single Superphosphate for topdressing pastures. The advantages of each of these products are outlined below:
BioAg Superb
Table 1: The comparison of Single Superphosphate and BioAg products

Nutrient Single Superphosphate BioAg Superb BioAgPhos S10
Phosphorus 8.8 8 11
Calcium 20 27 32
Sulphur 11 5 10

BioAg Superb is a blend of BioAgPhos (a reactive phosphate rock that has been treated with a microbial culture to increase solubility) & gypsum, resulting in an analysis comparable to Single Super (refer Table 1). Unlike conventional fertilisers, BioAg Superb provides an immediate & slowly available source of plant-available Phosphorus, as well as Sulphur for clover growth. It is not water soluble so it is not leached or ‘locked up’ as readily as conventional fertilisers. Around a third of the 8% Phosphorus in BioAg Superb is immediately available for plant use, whilst the remainder is slowly digested by soil microbes. This product is not granulated & needs to be applied using a belt spreader.
BioAgPhos S10
BioAgphos S10 comprises 90% BioAgPhos & 10% elemental Sulphur. However, the Sulphur is treated with microbes for rapid digestion & improved plant availability. As a result, this product is ideally suited to soils low in both Phosphorus & Sulphur. With the recent heavy rain in the Braidwood district, it reinforces the advantages of having a product containing Sulphur that will not readily leach, such as BioAgPhos S10.
Field trials demonstrate the value of rock phosphate products
Trial work on these rock phosphate products is encouraging – an 8 year trial conducted by NSW DPI near Orange showed a greater pasture response from using rock phosphate products compared to Single Super. These rock phosphate products work best under high rainfall, acid soil conditions – an ideal fit for the Braidwood area. Further work is currently being conducted on alternative fertilisers, including BioAg, by NSW DPI at Yass – initial results are encouraging, however the trial is expected to continue for another 3 years which will provide sound data on the performance of alternative fertilisers locally. For further information on these exciting new range of fertiliser products, call Roger Garnsey or Richard Walker at Landmark Daniel Walker.

 

PASTURE VARIETY UPDATE
First Published November 2012

Before pasture sowing gets into full swing again next year, here is a summary of the main perennial grass, herb & clover options available, including some new releases to the Australian market: Mediterranean tall fescue: a more palatable grass than phalaris & cocksfoot when kept in the vegetative phase of growth. Once this plant gets above 10 cm height, its palatability decreases significantly, so maintain grazing pressure to get the most out of this species. Varieties include Charlem, Fletcha, Freydo, Origin, Prosper, Resolute & Medallion. Medallion is slightly later flowering & has a softer leaf than other varieties but similar DM production. However, its persistence is yet to be determined. Continental tall fescue: These varieties are better suited to high summer rainfall areas, or areas with soft finishes. Oceanic varieties produce a more even growth spread over the entire season, rather than being distinctly summer active (Continental type) or summer dormant (Mediterranean type). Varieties include Quantum II, Pastoral, Festival & Finesse Q; Phalaris: Drought hardy perennial grass. Varieties include: 1. prostrate types: Australian, Australian II (selected from Australian for higher seed yields, however DM production suffers as a result; 2. semi-erect habit, winter actives with low summer dormancy: Holdfast, Holdfast GT (no genetic relationship to Holdfast), Landmaster & SF Mate (a new early maturing type); 3. erect-habit, winter active with good summer dormancy: Atlas phalaris, specifically for western areas of the State. In general terms, the more winter active varieties produce greater amounts of DM/ha/year, however the Australian varieties have shown better persistence under extreme drought conditions. Cocksfoot: Perennial grass tolerant of acidic soils. Varieties include the more traditional Porto & Currie, as well as the more recent releases of Ambassador (shows poor frost tolerance), Greenly, Lazuly, Royale, Drover, Tekapo & Yarck. The Spanish cocksfoots, Uplands & Sendace, have shown excellent persistence under low rainfall environments, but reduced DM production (20% less productive than Greenly). As usual, a reduction in DM is often paid for persistence in perennial grasses. Brome grasses: Brome grasses are productive in autumn & winter, & even when in flower, provide high quality feed. The early maturing bromes (e.g. (Geronimo & Matua) are more productive, whilst the later flowering Exceltas & Atom produced less DM/ha over the year, but remained vegetative for longer. The early flowering types (Geronimo & Matua) exhibited better seed recruitment than later flowering types, like Atom & Exceltas. These varieties can also be effectively established by topdressing in autumn with fertiliser. They require rotational grazing to allow seedling recruitment every 1-2 years for persistence. Perennial ryegrass: There are numerous trials which have evaluated the DM production of perennial ryegrasses, all of which appear to produce a similar outcome. Apart from the older varieties, the annual DM production of the new lines of perennial ryegrass is often relatively similar. Of greater importance is the maturity of the ryegrass species for your area & the ‘ploidy’ i.e. tetrapolids vs diploids. Choose tetraploids for improved clover content & palatability (due to high sugar content) & diploids for improved competition against annual weeds. Chicory: sow on fertile deep soils for best results, though will tolerate acid soils down to 25% Aluminium. Superior weight gains in chicory in comparison to all other species, due to combination of high energy levels (13 MJ ME/kg DM) combined with low Neutral Detergent Fibre (NDF) levels. NDF is a measure of cell wall content. Hence, pasture mixes incorporating chicory encouraged (e.g. Lucerne, chicory, clover) for improved weight gains. Two main options are: (i) winter active: Punter, Balance, Chico, Commander & Grunter (due for release in 2013). More vegetative, with good winter activity & regeneration from seed. Winter actives can compete strongly against weeds/other pasture species & therefore can be established by topdressing with fertiliser in May/June. The winter actives have a higher crown & are more prone to overgrazing. Their persistence is therefore less than the winter dormants. However, Grunter reportedly has lower crown & improved persistence; (ii) winter dormant: Puna, Puna II, Grouse, Choice. Lower crowned varieties with less winter activity but improved persistence. These varieties will flower more readily over summer than the winter actives. Plantain: Improved persistence over chicory. The two main options are: (i) winter active: Endurance, Tonic. Early flowering varieties. Endurance has greater seed production & is 23 days later to mature than Tonic. Once seedset begins, quality reduces significantly (< 8 MJ ME/kg DM); (ii) winter dormant: Boston (for release 2013). Later flowering & summer active.
For further information on the latest pasture varieties, please do not hesitate to contact our consulting agronomist, Roger Garnsey through Landmark Daniel Walker on 02 48 422405.

 

FLUPROPANATE GRANULES: ANOTHER OPTION FOR CONTROL OF PERENNIAL GRASS WEEDS
First Published November 2013

Up until recently, the herbicide flupropanate was only available as a liquid formulation (commonly known under a number of trade names, including Taskforce, Tussock & Kennock). However a granular formulation of flupropanate is now available & providing encouraging results against perennial grass weeds, such as serrated tussock. Developed & manufactured in Orange, NSW, GP FLUPROPANATE GRANULAR HERBICIDE also has scope to control African Lovegrass & Chilean Needle Grass in the southern Tablelands. The label rate is 15 kg/ha, however lower label rates have been trialled which have produced excellent weed kill with reduced adverse effects on native & introduced perennial species. Further trial work is ongoing in this area.
The granular formulation is based on a hard clay carrier with flupropanate present both on the surface & absorbed into the clay core. This allows the granule to have a two phase release with the flupropanate being rapidly released from the surface of the granule combined with a slow release flupropanate from within the clay core. Flupropanate is very soluble in water which carries the chemical through the soil to the weed’s roots. The tussock grass weeds have a dense root system including many surface roots which allow them to take advantage of light rainfall during the drier months. The high density of flupropanate granules, coupled with the high solubility of flupropanate & the dense surface root systems results in efficient control of difficult to control perennial grass weeds, such as serrated tussock.
Why choose granules over liquids?
The granular formulation of flupropanate has the following advantages over liquid formulations:
· Ability to target weeds under tree canopies & foliage;
· 100% of the active reaches the target;
· Reduced drift;
·  Can be applied by hand, ground or air (preferably);
· Available in convenient 750 g or 15 kg containers, as well as 20 kg & 500 kg bags.
For further information, please do not hesitate to contact our consulting agronomist, Roger Garnsey through Landmark Daniel Walker on 02 48 422405.


Caption
Microlaena recovering beside dead tussock after application of flupropanate granules.

 

FEEDTEST PADDOCKS FOR UPCOMING HAY & SILAGE SEASON

First Published November 2015

By sampling your silage or hay paddocks, you’ll be able to answer the following questions:

  1. Is my pasture good enough to feed my stock?
  2. Is my pasture as good as I am budgeting?
  3. Should I silage paddock 1 or paddock 2?
  4. Will it make poor, average or good hay/silage?

Feedtest offers a range of test packages to test the quality of your crop/pasture, but the most common test used is the Fodder quality (NIR) test with the following quality parameters:

  • Crude Protein (CP)
  • Neutral Detergent Fibre (NDF)
  • Digestibility of Dry Matter (DDM)
  • Digestibility of Organic Dry Matter (DOMD)
  • Metabolisable Energy (ME)
  • Moisture content & dry matter

Lab results can be back to you within 24 hours for $84.70 or $60.50 for 3 day turn around.

To provide an accurate sample, collect forage samples within 1-2 weeks of harvesting:

  • 5cm above the soil level, collecting 15-20 samples randomly around the paddock;
  • Cut samples into 5 cm lengths so it fits in the sample bag & wrap in paper;
  • Label sample bag & complete the form;
  • Keep sample in freezer until posting to; Feed Central, Reply Paid 89091, Shepparton Vic 3630

For any further information on fodder testing, please contact Landmark’s consulting agronomist, Roger Garnsey on 0429 625880.

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF SULPHUR

First Published November 2016

Whilst there is much emphasis placed on addressing Phosphorus (P) levels in the soil for optimum pasture growth, Sulphur (S) is equally important.

Without Sulphur, plants fail to thrive and legumes cannot fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. Sulphur is a principal component of three essential amino acids needed to make plant proteins and deficiency limits growth.

Sulphur is also essential for symbiotic fixation of nitrogen by legumes, where Rhizobia bacteria in root nodules use atmospheric nitrogen to produce amino acids and proteins. Soil organisms process organic matter derived from legumes to release (mineralise) nitrogen to the soil for uptake by plants and other organisms.

Single Superphosphate is particularly effective where Sulphur (& Phosphorus levels) are critically low & a rapid response is required. The Sulphur (available in the sulphate form) in Single Super is available to the plant in days. In contrast, products containing elemental Sulphur are slow release & need to be converted into the sulphate form before it can be taken up by plants (taking several months). If your property has a strong history of Single Superphosphate with elevated levels of Phosphorus & Sulphur in the soil, then a slower release fertiliser product may be appropriate (e.g. BioAgPhos S10).

For further information on Sulphur, or choosing the most appropriate fertiliser for your situation, please call Landmark Daniel Walker or their consulting agronomist, Roger Garnsey on 0429625880.