Football practice is over for another year –not that it affects me anymore, other than as an excuse to drop into the clubrooms to keep the old familiar banter going and catch up with some friendly locals. Just as the sun was setting, I wheeled out through the great gates and headed home. I cannot wait till those driverless cars come in. Just imagine hopping in the back seat, ringing home and saying something like, “Yep, strapped in! Can you press ‘Go!’ and I will see you soon!’’
Well, the only relevance to training is that ‘the end of training’ means it’s usually time to start thinking about shutting up paddocks for hay (especially out here where we haven’t made the finals for years!)
Hard to believe this year, I mean, I just spent a horrendous afternoon bogged!!! No one home, no radio working (that’s my fault), no mobile phone reception, (that’s the pollies’ fault), tractor has a flat tyre, the neighbours are on holidays, and, well, …. I had to walk.
The thought process often goes: Hay? Silage? What paddocks? Cant we get on them? Great, no fertilizer this year- that’s a saving!!!
Why do we consider ‘conservation’ of paddocks anyway?
One of the reasons for it is to help manage pasture composition. Another is to have reserves when the dry feed has completely gone or for specific programs like containment feeding. And, of course, that is only considered in the years when we anticipate pasture growth will be greater than the requirements of the old and new models of forage harvesters that we have on hand.
Right! Same, same same! No, last year was bad, so generally, everything that looked like it could be high enough to cut, was cut and baled.
What about first thinking of things like:
- How much fodder will definitely be used?
- What animals will be fed?
- What energy and protein will they need?
- How much should I keep in reserve anyway?
This is all a bit much, especially just driving home, but while I was not being interrupted I thought I would keep going.
- How many tonnes am I likely to get from each paddock?
- Will that paddock actually cut more?
All this questioning only started because I recently attended the very interesting and thought provoking 57th Grasslands’ Conference in Hamilton.
There was an excellent presentation titled “Risk management strategies for grazing enterprises to combat the variability of season” by Cam Nicholson.
By using modelling, Mr Nicholson showed that in the months of September, October and November, in the western districts of Victoria, spring daily growth rates can vary by more than 100% in any of those months! He made the point that, at some places, the variation each month may not be sufficient to influence decisions, but at the majority of sites examined, the range could amount to more than 1.5 tonnes in any one month. That’s to say, in the poorest September, average daily growth might have been 35kg DM/ha/day over 30 days. That’s about 1000 kg DM, allowing some for the red-legged earth mites and my maths. In the best years, it could be around 65kg DM/ha/day – that’s about 2,000kg of DM given my maths and none for the earth mites.
It’s often October where the gap can widen to more than 1.5 tonnes DM. We cannot control that, but we can review what might be needed and why, then develop some management strategies to handle the risk around the likelihood of each event.
Just then my thoughts were rudely interrupted by a large bang and slowing of the vehicle. What? Not another walk!
Is it possible to be more prepared for the risks in spring???
Article by Peter Flavel