Lessons in pastures for southern producers

Lessons in pastures for southern producers

Stock and Land Beef
Tony and Lynley Butler from Yass at the recent local Prograze session.

Tony and Lynley Butler from Yass at the recent local Prograze session.

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Producers big and small around Yass in southern NSW are learning about pasture management for good and bad times.

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With the region in the grip of drought, a group of cattle and sheep producers around Yass in southern NSW are learning about ensuring good pasture growth.

Those producers are part of the local Prograze course, which has been run every year in the region since the early 90's.

Senior advisor with Local Land Services in southern NSW, Fiona Leech, said the course was designed to help farmers match pasture to livestock requirements.

"We want to give a better understanding of what pasture species are present," she said.

"What productivity response can be assumed, and understanding patterns of growth for different species."

Ms Leech said there was added interest given the season, but even in good years those who take part gain tools they can use.

Fiona Leech from Local Land Services in South East NSW walks members through part of the Bookham trial site.

Fiona Leech from Local Land Services in South East NSW walks members through part of the Bookham trial site.

"The beauty of the course is that it's run over nine months, where we meet every four to six weeks," she said.

"Seasons might differ, but those discussions through the the year means a producer starts to understand how pastures change, and livestock requirements change with them.

"Either way the skills that are taught set people up to cope with dry times better."

With its close proximity to Sydney and Canberra, the Yass Prograze course attracts a mix of hobby farmers, tree changers and large commercial producers.

Tony and Lynley Butler moved to Yass 18 months ago from Sydney buying a 308 hectare block where they run a small cow herd and 2400 fine wool Merinos.

They came looking for a change of life but also wanted to learn how to look after their land and livestock, and the course is a big help.

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"We want to understand our pasture's and the animals requirements," Lynley Butler said.

"It's been a huge learning experience but it helps with our planning and it's also great for networking."

Ms Leech said over the years there's sometimes been resistance from larger producers to being in the same group with hobby farmers, but it actually works well.

"I've delivered this course since 1997 and we've found that it doesn't matter to have that mix," she said.

"Some people will ask questions that others aren't quite game to, and those raw beginners are often prepared to do that.

"But it's more that the concepts taught fits if you're on five acres or 5000."

The latest session for the group was held on a pasture trial site near Bookham south of Yass, which a local farmer set aside 26 years ago.

Senior Ag Advisor Matt Lieschke said it had been used to measure the effectiveness of fertilizer on on native pasture.

"At the time they fenced paddock in half, one side was a control and on the other side they put single super," he said.

"It's consistently shown over the years the fertilised paddock will grow double the amount of grass and carry double the stock."

Mr Lieschke said the long running trial allows the Prograze group to see pasture research in action.

"It's been through good years and bad years and shows what can be done once you start addressing major soil nutrient deficiencies."

Matt Lieschke from Local Land Services at Bookham.

Matt Lieschke from Local Land Services at Bookham.

The story Lessons in pastures for southern producers first appeared on Farm Online.

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