News & Advice

Turning those winter-damaged paddocks into a positive

Sep 7, 2017 | Dairy, Farm systems

Katrina Roberts, Anexa FVC Herd Health Veterinarian

We mentioned last month, that one of the ways to deal with paddocks that have been damaged with pugging in the winter was to crop them in the spring. The reasons for this are paddocks that are damaged will grow less grass due to a reduced number of rye grass plants, and poorer survival of ryegrass through the summer due to lower tiller numbers. The spaces that are created are filled with low value weeds, which in turn compete with the remaining ryegrass. Making sure you are making a well-informed decision not a knee jerk reaction is crucial to the success of a re-grassing programme. The opportunity to invest in new pasture species that are more palatable and maybe better suited to your farm, if done well will lead to increases in farm performance.

Dairy NZ has a pasture assessment guide:  which suggests that paddocks with severe damage can be:

  • Sown into summer crop this spring, and plan to sow in perennial pasture in the autumn, 
  • Over-sow chicory and fertiliser in the spring or under-sow with chicory in the spring, and plan to renew with a permanent pasture in 6-18 months, 
  • Under-sow with Italian ryegrass next autumn, and plan to renew with a permanent pasture following 6-12 months. 

Research carried out in Taranaki during the 1980s found that over-sowing and under-sowing ryegrass seed into winter-damaged pastures increased dry matter production by 1-2t/ha in the 2 following years.

Getting your timing right with planting the crops, figuring out which crops will work best for your farm system and what area you need or can manage out of the round while the crops are developing are crucial to the success of the cropping programme. This will then lead to a more profitable outcome on your farm. Summer crops can work well on some farms, however if you have not incorporated them into your farm system before, or you have tried and have been unhappy with the outcome, you need to ensure you have a good plan in place. Ensure you speak to your farm advisor or one of our advisory team (pictured below) about your options.

Share This