If you’re planning on growing a summer crop or two, now is the time to think about paddock selection and preparation.
Due to the recent wet weather, cultivation and planting are likely to be delayed, with paddocks too wet for the tractor. It’s important to allow soils time to dry out before cultivating, remembering that heavier soils take longer to dry, especially if it’s cold and damp.
If soils are cultivated when they are too wet, this can cause long-term soil damage by breaking down soil structure. The secret is to retain enough soil moisture to allow for good seed germination and growth.
Have you soil tested the paddocks you plan to sow?
Testing will tell you whether soil nutrient levels are high enough to deliver optimal plant growth. It will also alert you to any deficiencies, excesses or imbalances of major nutrients, as well as enabling you to track fertility trends over time.
And, of course, a soil test will inform your fertiliser recommendations, helping your fertiliser dollar go further. Your local fertiliser rep can carry out a soil test for you, or you can do it yourself, if you have a soil auger.
Here are some soil testing tips:
1) Don’t test within three months of applying fertiliser or lime.
2) Take samples by walking in a random or zig zag pattern across the paddock.
3) Don’t sample in dung or urine patches, or stock camping areas, such as around troughs or under trees.
4) Put each sample in a clear snap lock bag and label clearly.
5) Deliver your samples to the lab immediately or store in the fridge until you can get to the lab. Delays expose samples to excess heat and moisture and can affect the analysis.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Knowledge Hub has resources on soil characteristics, fertiliser use and crop establishment. Visit www.knowledgehub.co.nz