Balansa blooms at Bowelling block

30 Oct, 2013 01:00 AM
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CSBP area manager Nathan Cuthbert (left) and Bowelling farmer Mitchell Lubcke inspect the Lubcke's excellent stand of Balansa clover-based pasture.
CSBP area manager Nathan Cuthbert (left) and Bowelling farmer Mitchell Lubcke inspect the Lubcke's excellent stand of Balansa clover-based pasture.

THE art of pasture management is alive and well at the Lubcke's Bowelling property.

"To see the demonstration of such greatly increased productivity on the Bowelling flats reinforces to me the value of investing in pastures," CSBP area manager Nathan Cuthbert, who has lived and worked in the area for many years, said.

The Lubckes bought a property three years ago at Bowelling, about 30 kilometres west of Darkan.

More than half of the property was river flats which were dominated by barley grass and frequently waterlogged.

"I really like the approach Hayden and Mitchell Lubcke have taken to get the land back into production, they have been so thorough," Mr Cuthbert said.

"They have worked on drainage problems, put potassium fertiliser and lime back into the system as these flats are invariably acidic and low in K, and have then treated the Paradana Balansa like a crop."

One and a half tonnes per acre of lime have been applied, then 3kg/ha of Balansa was sown with 50kg/ha of Mitika oats and a few kilograms of a ryegrass mix.

The nutrition for plants has been corrected along with insect control and they see the value in NK fertiliser in early spring

With different soil types across most paddocks it is essential to have oats and ryegrass in the mix as these species perform better on the lighter soil types, while the clover can withstand waterlogging and thrive during the spring

By mid-October there was 8-10 t/ha of dry matter produced in much of a renovated paddock after one of the wettest winters in recent years, and much of that growth had occurred in the previous three weeks.

Given a very mild spring so far there is likely to be plenty more growth to come.

"The other key to keeping the system healthy has been to reduce paddock size combined with crash grazing, to ensure the slow autumn and winter growth of Balansa was not crowded out by grasses before conditions started to dry out," Mr Cuthbert said.

"This is a major key of pasture management – to make the most out of your investment and ensure you set seed for many years to come.

"By renovating a paddock and having the option to crash graze, this takes grazing pressure off other paddocks.

"This then gives the option to manipulate pasture in another paddock to get rid of unwanted species to set up for renovation the following year, or simply allows feed to get away so there is more paddock feed available over summer.

"Given the growth this year, half this pasture can now be cut for silage or haylage and this will help spread the clover around to other parts of the farm.

"On a 38ha paddock there were 1850 hoggets and it took them about three weeks to chew it down.

"This is a huge increase in stocking rate and takes pressure off other paddocks and the home block."

"The Lubckes still have a few more paddocks to go to complete their pasture renovation across the flat country and have not tried to do too much in one hit.

"At this rate they will certainly continue to increase stocking rates and maintain very healthy livestock," Mr Cuthbert said.

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