WHY WE NOW FALLOW FARM
Thanks for the fallowing piece in the March 2015 edition. It has added confirmatory bias to our practice into which we fell by accident on our 10 acres.
With a little permaculture reading, I decided that tall grass was worth growing, despite its offense to my Kiwi desire to see a tidy landscape. When the calves went into the paddocks full of seedheads and immediately chomped them and the dandelion heads before touching anything else we felt much better.
My late father-in-law once said that he had never seen cows eat seed heads, but then conceded that as a dairy farmer he had never let his grass grow tall enough. When the girls turned up with glossy coats from the seed oils we knew
we were onto a winner so I set out to find more reasons for it.
I’m agreed on the effects on root formation, and some ‘permie’ research has been done on the difference and it’s significant. Our root zone extended from about 10cm to 20cm in a single year. We also noticed that long, dense grasses resist erosion by slowing down the flow of water, although we have also built a couple of swales to handle the larger water issues on our property.
We don’t go quite as far as a full year lock-up, although parts of the property have not been grazed for nearly that long, but under a permaculture design we do graze hard, then leave the paddock for at least 120 days before grazing again to break the parasite cycle.
Part of the process is to ensure that we are not overstocking. We had five weaners that we cut to two yearlings, which we then replaced at two years with a couple of Dexters because that long grass is important to us and being able to feed our animals from the landscape is critical.
One more thing. When we arrived we had a rabbit problem, but a single winter of growing the grass as tall as we could solved that without traps, bait, or a bullet fired. They hate long grass and head for pastures new, and shorter.