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Wednesday, 21 February 2018 11:46

Seed for autumn feed

For farmers who may traditionally buy their feed from an external source rather than growing it on-farm, there’s one very good reason for a change this winter – as proprietary pasture seed company PGG Wrightson Seeds’ Product Development Manager Allan Mudford explains.

“Home-grown pastures are often the most cost-effective production systems. If you’re buying in feed, it’s an extra input cost," he said. 
"Home-grown feed can save you time and labour, enabling you to invest that back into other areas, so that your farm becomes more productive and profitable.”

This year in particular, home-grown feed may be even more cost effective.
“Hot and dry weather conditions last spring and over summer across the country have seen a drop in the available amount of quality hay and silage. This lower supply also means higher current prices for hay and silage. The unfavourable conditions has also led to a marked drop in the average nutritional quality of available hay and silage,” says Allan.
However, when it comes to implementing a successful home-grown pasture system, autumn is a particularly important time of the year – and making the right decisions now can significantly affect pasture production levels and livestock performance.
”Creating optimal home-grown feed supplies depends on a number of factors,” says Allan.  – “Not least of which is the ability to choose the best varieties, in the right place, for greater long-term supply.”
To avoid the common problem of feed deficits, Allan explains that growers should consider the long-term goals of their pasture system, rather than merely taking a short-term approach:
“Careful planning, selection and preparation will give a much better feed production curve – so growers should consider everything from selecting the most fertile areas and choosing the right pasture to sow, to implementing good weed and pest management practices, and also considering the best seed preparation techniques.”
For Allan, sowing rates are another area that can impact on success:
“Get your sowing rates right and you can improve early production without adding too much cost..
“An optimum sowing rate is crucial, as it leaves less room for weeds to establish, and creates a more sustainable pasture system.”
Allan says fertilizer and nutrition are also key, because the healthier the pasture, the better the end product, and the stronger and healthier livestock will be.
When it comes to health, vigour and consistency, the latest star of the home-grown pasture is PGG Wrightson Seeds’ recently-released annual ryegrass, Ascend – and Allan explains exactly why it’s a pasture option that’s very much worth considering:
“Ascend is ideal for farmers wanting to increase their home-grown winter pasture production from autumn into late spring, because it establishes early but matures late in the season.  It jumps up very quickly, offering good winter growth and high rust resistance – and with its dense tillering, it fills out quickly, providing exceptional ground cover.
“This is the perfect choice for grazing or cutting for silage or hay later in the season – and with its improved dry matter production compared to most annuals, it also boosts weight gain, leading to increased productivity… whether that’s for milk, wool or meat production.”
To find out more about how Ascend can benefit your pasture system, visit www.pggwrightsonseeds.com.au, or speak to one of PGG Wrightson Seeds’ pasture agronomists – who are also available to help growers plan the best pasture system for success.

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