Management

Getting the balance right in South Gippsland

By Dairy News

SOUTH GIPPSLAND dairy farmer Paul Kent has mastered the art of establishing a mixed perennial pasture sward utilising Pasture Genetics varieties.

The key component to this custom blend is Balance Chicory. Mr Kent wasn’t satisfied with the persistence from pure perennial rye-grass stands, particularly on his undulating country, so he developed his own pasture renovation program.

Beginning in autumn, old pastures are sprayed out and sown to an Outback Forage Oats and forage brassica crop.

This supplies valuable winter feed helps create a feed wedge across the remainder of the farm and prepares the paddock for a summer crop.

The paddock is then sown in early spring to a custom blend of Balance Chicory and Renegade Red Clover.

Mr Kent has tried several chicory varieties but keeps returning to Balance Chicory for its upright growth habit because “it’s just so palatable to the cows”.

This high-quality summer crop is also the basis for the perennial pasture. Early the following autumn, the crop is over-sown with Jackpot Italian Rye-grass and Jumbo White Clover to provide explosive winter feed.

Twelve months later, the paddock is over-sown a final time to 24Seven Perennial Rye-grass where it persists well in the tougher dairy country.

Having so much variety in his pastures not only grows Mr Kent more feed, but it saves him money.

The deep taproot of Balance Chicory means it can produce high-quality green feed at a time when most pastures in the district have long since dried off.

This reduces supplementary feeding and saves him from having to agist his dry stock. The high clover content fixes atmospheric nitrogen, which also reduces his reliance on synthetic fertilisers.

As a self-confessed “passionate grass grower”, he recognises that it’s all about the results.

“When the cows go into these paddocks the litres don’t change, but their components go through the roof, and that’s what we’re paid on,” he said.

• Article supplied by Pasture Genetics