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Patchy Pastures Prompt Warning to Farmers

Many winter based pastures on the Central Tablelands are struggling after a two tough years so now is the time to assess what is happening in your paddock.

That’s the advice from Central Tablelands Local Land Services pasture advisor, Clare Edwards.

“Winter is a good time to assess what temperate or cool season perennials such as phalaris and cocksfoot have survived,” said Clare.

“It’s also an opportunity to check out the cool season annual grasses such as vulpia and barley grass. Do not underestimate the problems these weed species in newly sown pastures or the potential challenges the pose for paddocks you are considering re-sowing next year.”

“Barley grass and vulpia are the main sources of grass seed damage in lamb carcases, so it’s worth considering strategies to minimise seed contamination in lamb and wool production.”

Clare has been out assessing paddocks around the region, prompting a warning to farmers about patchy pastures.

“There have been significant changes in the pasture base in some paddocks which could catch people out and leave them short of feed over this winter and the coming spring.”

The lack of rain and pasture growth during the dry, cold winters of 2017 and 2018 has seen winter dominant plants increasingly replaced by more summer growing species.

“These summer species, which have frosted off, won’t create the same quantity or quality of feed needed to match animal requirements, particularly for lambing ewes,” said Clare.

Meanwhile drought conditions have also promoted the growth of broadleaf and grassy weeds, further eroding pasture productivity.

“Last year we saw increased populations of Paterson’s curse, viper’s bugloss, thistles, shepherds purse, crumbweed, fleabane, blue heliotrope and Bathurst burr, and it’s likely we’ll see more weeds again in 2019.”

Clare advises now is the time to assess pasture composition and consider your options for rejuvenation or a change in management.

“It’s time to go out and check the pastures in your paddock to see if a different species composition has developed.”

“Where producers decide to renovate a pasture, you need to start planning now to ensure you achieve success in 2020 and beyond,” said Clare.

For more information about winter pasture management and pasture species contact Clare Edwards at Central Tablelands Local Land Services on 0428 435 615.