SOIL & FER­TILISER

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Feature Country Calendar: Winter -

There’s al­ways a lot of talk in ad­vi­sory cir­cles about strate­gic use of ni­tro­gen fer­tiliser. This is all about get­ting a good re­sponse from its ap­pli­ca­tion, which re­quires the 10cm soil tem­per­a­ture to be above 6°C and that the soil is not wa­ter­logged. Keep the spreader well clear of creeks and wet parts of the pad­dock, and ap­ply a num­ber of small dress­ings rather than one large dol­lop.

Good grow­ing con­di­tions will give a 10:1 re­sponse or bet­ter, which is 10kg of pas­ture DM for ev­ery 1kg of N in the fer­tiliser ap­plied. This could hap­pen in a cou­ple of weeks or less, but if it’s cold and mis­er­able it may take three weeks or more, and the re­sponse could be lower, and/or the N could be leached be­fore the plant roots take it up.

There’s no point in see­ing highly nu­tri­tious saved spring feed, grown at great ex­pense, be­ing pushed down into the soil by cat­tle. If it’s go­ing to be a re­ally wet night, get any large cat­tle off the pad­dock on to a hard dry area like a feed pad. Th­ese are now be­com­ing es­sen­tial and can be made from bark, which makes good com­post the fol­low­ing sea­son. Stand­ing cat­tle off pas­ture in a race for long pe­ri­ods is not ac­cept­able on wel­fare grounds.

Us­ing a back fence and mo­bile trough when graz­ing is also good prac­tice when pas­tures are dry as it aids more rapid re­cov­ery of the pas­ture.

There are now so many is­sues with se­ri­ous legal con­se­quences to be aware of when graz­ing the road­side that it should be avoided even if you have public li­a­bil­ity in­sur­ance. Find other ways to feed your stock.

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