Best practice required for summer forage crops

Farmers feeding summer forage crops need to be mindful of best management practices to ensure soil and nutrients stay within the paddock and don’t end up in waterways.
Monday, 16 December 2019

Matt Ward, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s General Manager North Island, says farmers are very aware of how to manage winter feed crops to protect soil and water resources and the same principles also apply to summer forage crops.

These include identifying and excluding stock from water ways and critical sources areas such as springs or gullies, grazing across a slope or from the top of the slope towards waterways and critical source areas and having a stand-off area away from the fodder crop available in very wet weather.

“These management factors are just as important in summer as they are in winter as heavy rainfall events can still affect grazing on summer fodder crops.”

Matt says wind can be more of an issue in summer and taking steps to minimise the time a paddock is bare will reduce the risk of soil loss from exposed paddocks.

“Getting a cover crop established as quickly as possible after the crop has been grazed will protect the soil and keep it in the paddock where it belongs.”

While summer forage crops are typically used for feeding young stock such as lambs or calves, soil damage and run-off can still occur in very wet weather, so farmers should have contingency plans in case of extreme weather events.

“We’ve already seen some extreme weather this summer which highlights the importance of having plans in place to protect livestock, soil and water resources.”

Matt recommends farmers using forage crops this summer take the time to review their management practices and ensure they are doing their best for both their livestock and the environment.

For more information about crop grazing management go to: https://beeflambnz.com/search?term=crop+grazing