Kicking Clods

Matt Foster
February 1, 2020

What a difference a month makes!

We have come off the hottest driest year ever recorded, into the wettest January for 16 years.

Year to date Armidale airport is on 348mm which is 160mm (6.4” inches) above average. There are many parts of the district which are on even higher rainfall, which has been sensational. Full dams, creeks flowing, full soil profiles and smiles on faces, isn’t green just the best colour!

The pasture sowing season is now in full swing after a slow start due to seed shortages and un-availabilities,with farmers opting firstly for quick winter feed. The multitude of summer grasses that have exploded looks very impressive from side on, but we need to remember that the first big run of frosts will make a hole in them, leaving us with little grazing value.

Forage cereals (where available) are now going in,along with annual rye grasses and forage brassicas. Given current warm soil temperatures, these have been out of the ground in less than 7 days.

There is going to be a bigger than expected planting of perennial pastures which is a good thing. Given the current reduced livestock numbers in the district, it is a very good opportunity to renovate some paddocks that have been damaged by the drought, without having to rely on them too early and graze them too hard too early. Any of these sown paddocks will allow the other parts of the property to recover nicely.

It has been very interesting to see how the improved pastures have fared, which species are the winners, and which have been the losers. It has been no surprise that the deepest-rooted perennial plants have survived the best, and they will form the base of our mixes moving forward if we are going to get drier than average seasons.

Keep an eye out for any different looking plants, both grasses and broad leaf weeds, as we are getting a lot of enquiry with plants that we have not seen in this district before. Most of them have been introduced via fodder and livestock that have come into the district in the drought. Two that stand out so far have been Cutleaf Nightshade and Devils Claw.

Whilst only isolated at this stage, it is best to remove them from your farm ASAP, before they become problematic and more expensive to control.

Keep the rain coming!

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