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Pasture Renewal
15 February 2018 Gary Bosley

Maximise performance with pasture renewal

In 2017, there was 12 months’ worth of rainfall between January and July and in many places this led to a lack of new pastures going in last autumn. The thought of which pastures to renew and the cost is quite daunting, so how do you prioritise which paddocks to renew over others?

An industry associated collection of bodies, led by The Pasture Renewal Charitable Trust is an independent entity funded by agribusinesses, raising awareness of the benefits of pasture renewal for the New Zealand economy. It is supported by Dairy NZ and Beef + Lamb NZ. They have come up with a system to guide you through pasture renewal decisions by condition scoring your pasture and determining a recommended course of action.

The aim is to encourage walking pastures in good time and assess under-performing paddocks to then create a plan to restore these paddocks back to full production. Usually this is best done in the spring or late summer, where you would condition score each paddock on a 1-5 basis according to the photographic comparative guides provided. On each condition score of the guide, there is a suggested course of action ranging from a “5”, where the whole paddock has a dense sward of desired grasses and clovers, to a condition score of “1”, where the entire paddock is severely damaged and the recommendation is to sow into a summer crop in the spring and then a perennial pasture in the following autumn.

Top tips:

  1. Plan the process well in advance. Remember, in the North Island, perennial pasture and clover is best planted by late March.
  2. Walk your paddocks and identify those that are under-performing using the photographic guide.
  3. Identify the reason behind the poor performance, for example poor drainage, pH or fertility, and fix them before you undertake any renewal process.
  4. Soil test at least six months in advance to give yourself time to correct any large nutrient deficiencies.
  5. Decide if you want to renew in either the autumn or spring. Perennial pasture is usually best renewed in the autumn, so take the opportunity to grow a summer crop and allow time to focus and deal with perennial weeds and nutritional problems.
  6. Plan the cultivation programme and work with the contractor to achieve your requirements.
  7. Spray out the old crop well before any cultivations or direct drilling using an appropriate dose of glyphosate plus insecticide if needed.
  8. Choose the correct cultivar for what you want to achieve. Consider heading date, endophyte, additional species mix and seed dressing.
  9. Plan sufficient seed requirement for sowing rate and order your seed mix well in advance.
  10. After drilling, monitor for slugs, pests and weeds and treat accordingly. Then manage early grazing, avoiding overgrazing or pugging. This will help with the persistence of the pasture and protect your investment.

For advice on pasture condition scoring your paddocks in the lead-up to autumn, and to discuss a suitable plan of action, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.

Gary Bosley

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Populations of both the cabbage grey aphid and green peach aphid damage your crop by sucking plant sap. The resulting yellowing and wilting reduces growth rates. Aphids also transmit plant viruses in brassicas and their feeding points provide entry wounds for diseases which can severely damage plants or even kill large areas of the crop.

Ideally your first line of defense at this time of the season is a population of beneficial insects, providing natural protection against aphids, white butterfly and diamondback moth caterpillars. Species such as brown lacewing, ladybird beetles, hoverfly, parasitic wasps and predatory mites collectively play an important role in protecting your brassica crop from aphid flare ups and damage through until grazing. Monitor your crop closely for both pests and beneficial insects and if aphid populations do flare up and require treatment, use an aphicide with minimal impact on beneficial insects such as Transform™ from Dow AgroSciences.

Transform is a systemic insecticide that moves upwards and outwards via the xylem to protect new untreated growth, an important benefit during the main growth season. Transform also has translaminar activity forming a reservoir inside the leaf that resists wash-off and provides extended aphid control for up to 21 days. After application, aphids show symptoms from Transform and feeding ceases within minutes. Affected aphids fall off treated plants over the following day or so.

Transform has a strong environmental and toxicology profile, providing a high level of safety for both ground and aerial based applicators. Only minimal protective equipment is required, specifically overalls, water-resistant work boots, gloves and a washable hat. Use of a face shield or goggles is recommended when measuring and mixing. The use of a respirator is not a requirement.

Transform is compatible with most commonly used crop protection products used in forage brassicas and can be applied as a tank mix with Sparta™ insecticide for “best in class” control of diamondback moth, white butterfly, looper caterpillars and leafminer. Always read the updated version of the Transform product label for further guidelines on timing and use.

Consult your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative if summer pests are causing concerns in your forage brassicas.

Article supplied by DowDupont Agriculture Division

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