Hay making success born of experience

Hay making success born of experience

Cropping
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Quality hay production relies on a planned approach and a bit of luck.

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Hay making for seasoned practitioner Josh Lanyon is based on following a tried and true program.

For 25 years he has been making "a fair bit of hay" on the property just north of Boort.

Mr Lanyon admits that despite all the planning and best practices, the success of each hay crop was much dependent on the weather - or specifically rainfall.

A regular entrant in the Feed Central hay awards, Mr Lanyon had the best visual cereal (barley) and vetch hay in 2019.

Mr Lanyon said the hay program on the sandy-loam soils, was based on a simple three-year rotation - one third vetch, one third barley and one third oats.

No crop is repeated, with vetch followed by barley and then oats.

Preparation for each crop was "fairly similar".

Summer control of weeds, mainly heliotrope, was critical to preparing for the next crop.

Growing season rainfall this year from March to early August was 200 millimetres. Rainfall for the 2019 season from March to October was 165mm. Mr Lanyon said 2019 was "pretty lean" but the resultant yields were about average.

The crop was direct drilled with a John Deere 1830 at 254 millimetres (10 inch) spacings.

Vetch was sown at 40kg/ha, oats at 100kg and barley at 50kg with 65kg of Granulock Z 18. Urea applications depended on the rainfall.

Mr Lanyon said most years a large percentage of the crop was sown dry. This year with rainfall in April, "we didn't sow as much early because we didn't want the oats and vetch maturing too early".

"We didn't want to be cutting crops too early in spring when the weather is not conducive. We don't really want to cut anything before the middle of September," he said.

Varieties of oats sown were two Australian Exporters Company (AEXCO) varieties Brusher and Mulgara. He uses Planet and Hindmarsh barley.

He said the harvest period from September through to December was the busiest time.

Generally crops came due for harvest in a staggered way, "but if the season cuts out they all seem to come in together - within about 14 days", he said.

Hay making equipment comprised Krone balers and Macdon mower conditioners.

Mr Lanyon said the biggest change in hay making in the past ten years was the lift in productivity and efficiency of equipment. He said the advent of high density balers had lifted capacity both in tonnes a hectare as well as bale density.

He said that when conditions were right, bales weighed 700 to 800 kilograms.

Getting the moisture right was the critical part of hay making, he said.

Constant checks were carried out before it's baled, when it's baled, before it's stored and when it went into storage.

"That's our main job to just get that moisture as perfect as we can get it," he said.

The mower-conditioner had twin rollers to crimp the material every 50mm approximately.

Mr Lanyon said the crop was normally only raked once, in front of the baler, to bring two windrows into one.

While normally the whole crop was made into hay, this year the barley would be taken through to grain for harvest.

Mr Lanyon said that with the forecast for smaller markets domestically he wanted to just "back off the hay" component this year.

The majority of the crop is stored onfarm under cover.

Mr Lanyon said the oat crop was normally prepared for export.

He said they took contracts for five tonnes a hectare, with anything above that being sold on the domestic market.

All hay for domestic markets was feed tested and buyers could select the hay that best suited their requirements.

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