Soil nutrition, weed control and sowing or seeding are important considerations when establishing forage crops.
Good soil nutrient levels are important to ensure vigorous forage crop establishment. While the fertiliser history of a paddock can provide an insight into the likely levels of key nutrients, the only way to be sure of the soil nutrient and mineral profile along with pH is to undertake a soil test. A soil test will reveal attributes of soil fertility, which may influence forage crop selection and will determine fertiliser requirements.
These aspects are important as nutrient deficiencies or soil properties such as low pH which may affect crop establishment and lead to weed invasion.
Good weed control prior to planting a forage crop minimises competition for nutrients and moisture and helps the crop become established. If weeds are not controlled prior to planting, crop production can be reduced and in extreme cases fail completely.
Weeds can sometimes be controlled after sowing, however, the options are limited and selective herbicides are generally expensive. It is always best to reduce the weed population and residual seeds bank in the soil through a planned control program prior to sowing.
Having selected a suitable forage cop, reduced weeds to an acceptable level and determined the fertiliser requirement, it is time to consider sowing.
Conventional, minimum till and no-till sowing can be used depending on the circumstance and personal preference. Soil to seed contact is the most critical aspect in achieving germination and this is often best achieved using conventional sowing techniques.