This summer, green means go take a much closer look at pasture composition & quality

Just because farms in our region have not been hammered by summer drought this year doesn’t mean pastures are high in feed quality.


They may look fine at first glance (because they haven’t burnt off) but a closer look often reveals that what farmers might assume is ryegrass and clover is actually made up of other, less valuable species. Summer grasses are a classic example, and there’s no shortage of weeds around this season either.


So now’s the perfect time to walk the farm, assess all paddocks and make a plan for any action that is needed to get paddocks growing to their best.


Because feed is reasonably plentiful this year, farmers have a rare chance to take a paddock or two out of the grazing rotation for six weeks, to spray and direct drill new ryegrass and clover.


Let’s face it, paddocks with lots of weed and/or summer grasses aren’t growing that much DM anyway.


The trick is to look for paddocks that are noticeably slower in the grazing round. If the farm is on a 30 day round, find out which ones are only being grazed every 35+ days. Another tell-tale is that cows don’t like them very much because of the weeds.


Spray/drilling can turn these poor pastures into good ones at relatively low cost, and without too much hassle.

Spray with a high rate of glyphosate. Graze three days later. Then direct-drill new pasture seed. Use an annual like Hogan if the paddock is ear-marked for crop this coming spring.


If it’s not likely to be cropped in the next year or two Shogun is ideal. For a longer term fix, perennial ryegrass might be the best option (e.g. Trojan, Bealey, Alto etc).


Tips for success:

  • Check soil fertility – this needs to be correct
  • Check soil compaction – if the soil has a pan, or if quite amorphous (solid), cultivation may be needed.
  • Use treated seed; check for slugs and bait as necessary.