Field day fo­cus on graz­ing

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - ROGER HAN­SON

FARM­ERS had a chance to hear how to make the most of ir­ri­gated graz­ing sys­tems at a field day last week.

The Both­well Town Hall was packed as the Long­ford Red Meat Group and Wa­ter for Profit event day at­tracted around 80 par­tic­i­pants.

They heard an up­date on the three-year pro­ducer demon­stra­tion trial mea­sur­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity and prof­itabil­ity of prime-lamb breed­ing and fin­ish­ing on ir­ri­gated rye­grass and clover under ro­ta­tional and set-stocked sys­tems.

Year-two trial host John Ram­say said it had been a great learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and he was look­ing for­ward to the fi­nal re­sults.

Field-day par­tic­i­pants vis­ited the site to ob­serve op­tions for fenc­ing and in­fra­struc­ture under cen­tre piv­ots and speak­ers cov­ered top­ics rel­e­vant to max­imis­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity.

“When it comes to lamb fin­ish­ing feed qual­ity is ev­ery­thing, and qual­ity is a func­tion of man­age­ment,” Mac­quarie Franklin’s Basil Doo­nan said.

“Pas­ture man­age­ment is the fun­da­men­tal skill that de­ter­mines fi­nan­cial per­for­mance of pas­ture-based graz­ing sys­tems,” Mr Doo­nan said.

Vet­eri­nar­ian Bruce Jack­son spoke about worm man­age­ment under in­ten­sive sys­tems.

“Most worm lar­vae die out on pas­ture be­tween Au­gust and De­cem­ber, no mat­ter when de­posited. How­ever, in dry­land lar­vae wait in fae­cal pel­lets and when ir­ri­gated they mi­grate to pas­ture land.”

Dr Jack­son urged farm­ers to mon­i­tor their mob and worm-egg counts reg­u­larly.

James Hill from the Tas­ma­nian In­sti­tute of Agri­cul­ture said that to help pas­ture grow, farm­ers needed to ir­ri­gate ad­e­quately with good sched­ul­ing be­cause poor wa­ter­ing cost pro­duc­tion and money.

He said it was crit­i­cal ir­ri­ga­tors knew the read­ily avail­able wa­ter of their soil type, the ca­pac­ity of their sys­tems, for ex­am­ple sprin­kler pack size, and the lo­cal con­di­tions to un­der­stand how quickly their wa­ter was be­ing used.

He urged farm­ers to be­ware of green drought and said un­der­wa­ter­ing could cut pas­ture growth rates by 50 per cent.

“Green drought hap­pens when poor ir­ri­ga­tion sched­ul­ing leads to deficits and the ap­pli­ca­tion of ir­ri­ga­tion wa­ter keeps the grass green, but doesn’t re­sult in op­ti­mum pas­ture growth rates.”

“Sched­ul­ing ir­ri­ga­tion to keep wa­ter in the soil’s read­ily avail­able zone is re­ally im­por­tant,” he said.

Sheep farmer Tim John­son and son An­drew from Kemp­ton said the field day helped them learn about value-adding wa­ter on the prop­erty

Event co-or­di­na­tor Leanne Sher­riff from Mac­quarie Franklin, was de­lighted with the turnout.

Regis­tra­tions are now open for Mac­quarie Franklin’s Pas­ture Prin­ci­ples pro­gram 2018. For de­tails call 6427 5300.

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