Just a little rain please

Outlook
with Bill Webb
Bill Webb Feed Solutions

For months, farmers and most of the general public have justifiably been complaining about wet conditions – but now we’d all like a bit more rain.

It doesn’t take long for things to change, and while deeper down the soil is still moist and in places new springs are still flowing, sunshine and winds are drying out the surface.

It took until November the end of for our swamp paddocks to be dry enough for get machinery on to plant our crops, but some still needed work with the digger to improve drainage.

Now that maize and turnip crops are in, farmers should be spraying for post-emergence weeds to ensure the crops are not smothered by weeds which will also take nutrients and moisture from the soil. Without some rain, crop row cover may be a little slow, so controlling weeds early is important.

Insect pests

Mixing insecticide with the weed spray is a good idea as spring is the time when leaf miner and caterpillars in particular become a threat in Brassica crops.

An application of 150 kg of sustain N per hectare approximately six weeks after planting will give the Brassica crops a boost, also a side dressing should be applied to maize crops as per requirement.

Pasture also needs careful management. There doesn’t appear to have been a lot of silage cut this season. Taking a light cut of silage off paddocks now from any surplus will provide some extra supplementary feed and also reduce the risk of facial eczema associated with topping grass which has gone to seed and leaving it to lie in the paddocks.

Plant sorghum

Any badly pugged or marginal paddocks which are growing not much more than weeds can be direct drilled with sorghum up until Christmas, providing a good source of extra feed when needed. Don’t broadcast the seed because you won’t get a good strike after spraying out old pasture with a glyphosate. Direct drilling as deep as for maize seeds will reach the moist soils which are now at the right temperature for sorghum to germinate.

Most farmers have brought their dairy cows through a difficult winter and spring in good condition and will be striving to maintain lactation through until autumn to take advantage of the potential improved pay-out.

Part of doing that means having good feed on hand and now is the time to order hay and straw for delivery in January and February.

Cheapest feed

The cheapest feed is that delivered straight off the paddock, from behind the bailer, because it can go straight to the client, reducing double handling and transport costs.

As 2017 comes to a close, we are all hoping for better things, especially on the weather front, from 2018. It’s been a very hard year for farmers, contractors, orchardists, market gardeners and, in fact, anyone whose income is affected by the weather.

So the team at Bill Webb Feed Solutions wish all Coast & Country readers, and our clients a Happy Christmas, good times with family and friends, safe travels, and a bright and prosperous New Year in which weather patterns return to normal.

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