Kicking Clods - Coronavirus
Since the last article the world has gone mad! Literally mad! The threat of Corona Virus has many businesses hoping for the best but expecting the worst. Grazag is no different, wondering how we keep operating under the new restrictions and what the next 6 months will look like.
We are extremely committed to our client base and are here to let everyone know that we are still open for business as usual, but as the virus progresses, we may see some differences to the way we normally operate. Grazag understand due to the customer flow through the shed, we are going to be more exposed than farmers, who basically self-isolate anyway, travelling off the farm only when necessary. Consequently, we are very aware of our obligations to keep our clients safe.
We have taken several measures to make sure that our clients are kept safe, including cancelling all non-essential meetings with company representatives, and making sure that staff hands are washed all the time. From an agronomic point of view, in cases where a paddock inspection is necessary, I have been doing them solo then reporting back to the farmer. Other cases I have done paddock inspections via video or texted photos, which again minimise both the client and me.
If the virus progresses, we have in place measures to split our workforce to keep some team members unexposed so that we can continue to do our job and supply farmers. There are certainly NO reasons to panic buy, as we have good stocks of everything, and there are no real supply issues to date.
On a lighter note, we are seeing possibly the best growing conditions that I have seen in the New England for newly sown crops and pastures. Germination is taking as little as 3-4 days in the warm soils, and the easterly drizzle/rain last week was sensational. The promise of more next week should have everyone excited. Many of the newly sown pastures are approaching the first grazing which is important to get the most from them.
The cereals on the other hand have really bolted due to the lack of cooler weather, with some already punching a seed head out. The advice in January of not to plant, has now come back to bite with the prospect of not having those crops for winter when we really need them. Many new varieties were brought into the district due to lack of supply, and without any real information on them.
The drama of chewing off these crops now is that if they are grazed below the growing point on the first grazing event, they will not recover. Those primary tillers that are most advanced will produce no further yield, and grazing recovery will be slow, relying on secondary tillers. My advice is to check your cereal crops and check which growth stage they are up to and be prepared to graze if needed to save the later yield potential.
The summer forages have been a spectacular success this year with Millet and Forage Sorghum now being cut for silage and hay. It is great to see farmers putting something back in the ground or shed for the next dry spell. May the season continue in this vein for the rest of 2020, I can think of nothing better than a wet dreary winter and a good start to spring.
On a final note, I know it is a hard sell at present with the amount of money farmers spent on drought feeding, and the lack of livestock available, but don’t forget the importance in the drought recovery of fertiliser. The pastures are the engine room of recovery, but the fertilisers are the fuel to keep them running, doing the real grunt work. Pastures have done well to hold on in many cases with severe lack of rainfall, the next part of the equation is to give them a feed and kept them strong.