Conditions are ideal for grass growth in areas that got sufficient rainfall over the last month.
In fact, farmers along the tip of the north, south and west coasts are experiencing ideal summer conditions with excellent grass utilisation.
It is a slightly different story for those in the soil moisture deficit belt, which stretches across the middle and east of the country.
A soil moisture deficit of 45mm to 55mm is not overly severe but it is enough to restrict growth and that’s what is happening at present.
Average grass growth rates are between 40kg and 50kg/day on affected farms, which is below demand. However, grass is still green and it is still growing albeit at a slow rate.
For this reason, extra supplement is being fed where rotation lengths have fallen below 20 days.
Resist the temptation to go on really long round lengths or to try and maintain average farm cover at a certain level.
In a drought scenario, you are better off to focus on maintaining rotation length than focusing on maintaining average farm cover.
Some farmers are asking whether they should continue to spread nitrogen fertiliser on dry soils
Splitting the farm up into 20 or 25 divisions and putting in feed to fill the deficit is the best policy.
Some farmers are asking whether they should continue to spread nitrogen fertiliser on dry soils. The expert advice is that while it won’t be lost, it is unlikely to be used up either.
With heavy rain forecast for the weekend, I’d be inclined to press pause on spreading now and go out with nitrogen early next week, hopefully after the rain.
Grass growth predictions are based on the presumption of rain.
Before we walked the farm on Tuesday I was saying to myself that the place is very dry and expected to be feeding silage. However when we completed the walk there was a lot more grass available and growth is actually good. We could still do with rain but hopefully we’ll get some at the weekend. We got 8mm last week so that obviously made a difference. In general grass quality is poor. We have reseeded 30% of the farm to get more clover established so that will be coming back into the round in the next few weeks. We have also oversown 15% of the area with clover and this is getting no nitrogen and so is very hungry looking.
Growth has slowed down over the last fortnight as ground is getting dry. As a result we have increased meal from 2kg to 4kg and we will zero graze a field of grass that was intended for second cut silage. Hopefully this will help to slow down the round length and let average farm cover recover somewhat. Grass quality is good, with aftergrass coming back into the rotation the farm is in a good position for when rain does arrive. We are blanket applying 30 units of nitrogen per month. Half the paddocks got this in the form of watery slurry from dribble bar in the last round and they are now flying it.
Things are tipping along here fine. We got 8mm of rain last Thursday and grass is growing reasonably well. Having said that I am hoping we get some more rain this weekend. We got 21mm of rain in the month of June, which is more than others. We’re doing an experiment on low and zero nitrogen systems so some of our high clover paddocks won’t have got any chemical nitrogen since April and some won’t be getting any more for the rest of the year. We have oversown clover and this won’t get any chemical nitrogen but will get 0.25 bags/acre of muriate of potash after every second grazing.