Establishing a mix of oats and legumes into grazed winter feed paddocks is benefiting both the environment and livestock on Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Future Farm Lanercost.
The management team on the North Canterbury hill country farm is using the mix to capture and use the nutrients left in the wake of winter grazing to grow a bulk of high-quality feed and get legumes established into the paddock.
These legumes will ultimately form the basis of a high-quality permanent pasture.
Last year the mix of chicory, plantain, white clover, red clover, persian clover and oats was sown at a rate of 20kg into 17ha (former rape paddocks grazed by sheep) on 10 October.
Prior to sowing with a direct drill, the paddocks were deep ripped and top-worked.
The crop established well and was cut for green chop silage in early December with 130t of wet silage harvested off 21ha. The paddock, with the chicory, and clover understory, was used for finishing lambs and growing out ewe lambs over summer and autumn and will then be used for one-year ewes at lambing. Once the chicory starts to run out in about 18 months-time, permanent pasture will be stitched into the red and white clover.
It is expected this permanent pasture will last for about seven years before the paddock goes back into winter feed.
Lanercost’s farm consultant Jansen Travis says the oats are ideal as they germinate at low soil temperatures. While typically legumes wouldn’t be sown so early in spring, the hardier and more vigorous oats create a protective micro-climate for the legumes to grow underneath.
He says while new winter grazing regulations require subsequent crops to be in the ground by 1 October, if soil conditions are too wet there is a risk that the oats could rot in the ground.