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  • Writer's pictureWayne

Why do you fertilise hay paddocks?

In southern Australia where it is usually dry and hot in summer, and wet and cold in winter, the usual practice is to add some phosphate based fertiliser to pasture paddocks in February - April, and then somewhere in July-early September, a larger dose of fertiliser is spread on the paddocks destined to be cut for hay towards the end of spring (Sep-Nov depending on location). This fertiliser for hay paddocks is usually a combination of nitrogen, sulphur and potassium.

Why the bigger dose for hay paddocks? Because more fertiliser makes more growth so that you can cut more hay. Of course. Sounds logical and it works.

So why not spread that same high rate on all paddocks? What would happen if you did?

Too much feed of course. So, why not run more livestock?

I'm posing questions to make you think. The answers given will be a wide range and will of course vary according to location (rainfall and temperatures), and your goals.

I was thinking over these questions as I observed the ram paddock below (Romeo 6). My workman had already spread it with some fertiliser, and when I was spreading, I didn't look at the spreading map on the screen thinking it is only one hectare and it hadn't been done. As I started spreading, I glanced at the map on screen to see it had already been spread. Oh well I thought, a trial paddock getting a double dose. I love trials. Especially accidents as it seems they provide the best lessons.

When we are fully stocked, it is my intention to fertilise as often as is needed to maximise pasture growth. Pastures first, livestock second. We couldn't carry the livestock unless we grew the pasture first. Hopefully 2022 will be the year we are free of financial anchors and can hit top gear. Watch this space. By the way, if you would like to become a shareholder of Caluka Farms on our journey, which would enable us to get into top gear much sooner, please contact me and if possible, come and see us on the farm.

5th Dec 2021 Romeo 6 that had a double dose of the spring fertiliser.

11th Dec 2021 Romeo 6 with the double dose of fertiliser. It's all on the deck now. It is being grazed by our young rams, but the grass is winning.

11th Dec 2021 - Just showing a wet flat area in Papa paddock. This had a mob of rams and ewes in here the previous week, but they didn't touch it much. The whitish seed heads are Yorkshire Fog grass.

11th Dec 2021. Foxtrot paddock after our largest mob of ewes and lambs, and rams, had been in here for a week. They trod on more than they ate I think. The kike is very happy underneath and should stay green and growing well into February.

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