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Rain sparks strong interest in sowing winter feed

Local Land Services staff have fielded an influx of phone calls this week from farmers following recent rainfall across the Central Tablelands region.

Pasture specialist Clare Edwards said many farmers were seeking advice on sowing autumn pasture and forage crops, mainly in the Oberon, Mudgee, Bathurst and Lithgow areas.

Over the past fortnight there have been two significant rain events over the region with combined totals of around 90 millimetres at Lithgow, 80mm at Mudgee, 50mm at Bathurst and Cowra, 40mm at Oberon, and 35mm at Orange, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

“While the falls have been patchy, some landholders have had very good rain and soil temperatures are still warm enough to germinate both desirable plant species and weeds,” Ms Edwards said.

“We’re already seeing some summer grasses such as liverseed and barnyard grass starting to sprout, and many areas have seen a germination of sub clovers. Weeds such as khaki weed, caltrop, blue heliotrope and Bathurst burr are also on the increase.”

Groundcover is sparse in most paddocks following the dry summer but a lot of farmers were now looking to plant pastures or oats for winter feed, Ms Edwards said.

She had advised farmers consider a proper assessment of soil moisture before sowing.

“In some parts the rain came in high intensity falls, and many farmers have mentioned that it did not sink in, it just ran off. Low soil moisture can increase the risk of failure, especially when pre sowing weed control has not occurred,” Ms Edwards said.

High intensity storms can also cause problems for fertiliser application on perennial pastures. Farmers are advised to hold off on ground spreading of phosphorusuntil there is adequate ground cover to prevent fertiliser from being lost with erosion in heavy storms, and care should be taken not to spread fertiliser near waterways or drainage lines.

For advice on pasture establishment and forage crops, landholders can contact Senior Land Services Officers Clare Edwards (0428 435 615) or Phil Cranney (0458 745 478).