Growing Pasture: The Grass is greener in Murrabit!
John Archard on growing pasture: “Anyone can grow grass in autumn and spring just by throwing nitrogen down. Where this system stands out is its ability to grow quality pasture from March to December. High protein and high ME feed is what keeps your milk volume and components up”.
John Archard has been using BioAg programs on his Murrabit, Victoria irrigated dairy since 2010 and is achieving winter pasture production that he was never able to achieve with conventional approaches.
[x_image type=”rounded” float=”none” src=”https://www.bioag.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/John-Archard-and-Dan-Hill.jpg” alt=”Growing Pasture: Murrabit pasturalist John Archard with BioAg’s Dan Hill” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”]
BioAg Area Manager Dan Hill with John Archard on John’s dairy farm in Victoria.
John finds his cows are now happy to graze the same area for up to 4 days, whereas in the past they would have been knocking down the electric fence within a few hours to get back to the feed pad.
John’s BioAg program
- Lime 500kg
- BioAgPhos 200kg
- Sulphate of Ammonia (SOA) 100kg
- Soluble Boron (past 2 years) 2kg
- Balance & Grow 2l
- Sulsa (equivalent to 8 units of N and 1.8 units of S) 3l
The first foliar mix is applied in May/June and John normally follows the cows around with the boom spray. Occasionally the paddocks may receive 2 foliars during the winter months, but that depends on the season, grazing pressure etc.
As a consequence of the drought, John has moved away from summer pasture and now concentrates on maximising fodder conservation (silage) in the spring, which he then feeds out in the summer months. This minimises heat stress within the herd and helps prevent the drop in milk production you would normally see during heat waves.
After each silage cut, the paddock is irrigated and then sprayed with the foliar mix mentioned above to maximise both yield and forage quality. With this approach John has been able to achieve 3 to 4 cuts of silage from each paddock in the spring, whilst maintaining pasture production for the herd to graze.
The key points for growing pasture from John
- I’m achieving winter pasture production that I was never able to achieve with conventional approaches.
- The cows are happy to graze the same area for up to four days, whereas with the conventional approach, they would be knocking the electric fence down within a few hours, trying to get back to the feed pad. In fact you have to be careful not to over graze paddocks.
- Greater palatability of the pasture means greater pasture utilisation.
- The root system is now extending down to 40 cm. Previously they wouldn’t push beyond 5 -10 cm.
- The cost per hectare is certainly no more than my old approach, if anything it is less.
- Whilst I have had to purchase a spray cart for the foliars, the advantages far out way the costs, particularly during that winter growth period.