Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Cropping tips

The benefits of ground preparation were clear to see at the Laugesen’s Beef + Lamb field day in October.

As CRT District Sales Manager George Millar put it, it’s the difference between an okay crop and one that really meets its potential.

The Laugesens have had good success growing Goliath rape for lamb finishing, typically growing two harvests of six to eight tonnes over a season. This is from a cultivated and drilled seedbed.

The tour party saw how one section of the rape block had not been cultivated adequately and spring seedings were fewer and smaller. Where the block had been cultivated before sowing, the crop has struck more successfully.

“Timing and labour were the issues here,” Richard said.

Winter had been exceptionally wet and a pan developed on the surface, especially by the gateway and hay feeding area.

“It would have benefited from a dig.”

The 15ha of rape, all under irrigation, will be used for lamb finishing over summer, then redrilled for wintering multiple-bearing ewes.

Richard said they had had good success growing both brassica and Winter Star Italian ryegrass under irrigation. Rising one-year steers are grazed on the annual ryegrass over winter followed by multiple-bearing ewes which lamb on the crop. It is also used as a preparation crop for lucerne or permanent pasture of hybrid ryegrass with white and red clover.

Richard has run a summer brassica following a winter brassica and had no disease problems.

Allister Moorhead, of Agricom, said that two brassica crops in a row was okay but a third would greatly increase the risk of club root developing

“Once it gets in it can travel across the whole block. It can be an issue with summer rape following a winter rape.”

Pasja and Feast 11 are grown on dryland flats for ewe lambs post-weaning. Older ewes are then flushed on it. In the autumn Feast 11 will be allowed to take over from the Pasja to provide winter feed.

Richard said red clover was grown only on irrigated land. The crop is grazed until mid-November, then shut up for seed in April. The Laugesens are in their second year of a three-year contract to grow seed for PGG Wrightson. Barley is grown on contract for dairy feed.

“Red clover is fantastic lamb feed and fixes nitrogen,” Richard said, “but in the areas without irrigation it just burns off in the summer heat.”


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