Successful pasture establishment is important to ensuring high levels of production and persistence in improved pastures. Pastures are often sown as a mixture of species with the seeds being small, sensitive to the conditions and slow to establish.
It is important that the pasture is given the greatest chance of becoming established.
This can be achieved by following eight critical steps that reduce the risk of failure:
- Select the paddock and pasture, assess pasture and soil condition and start to plan.
- Implement weed and pest control in preceding year(s).
- Manage the paddock in the lead up to sowing through pre-sowing cultivation or grazing.
- Ensure effective weed and pest control at sowing - the most important factor for success.
- Sow into adequate soil moisture for quick germination and survival of the sown pasture.
- Ensure accurate seed placement.
- Monitor weeds and pests regularly after sowing.
- Manage initial and subsequent grazing.
There are many possible pasture species available to producers. Which species or combination of species is right for a particular situation depends upon the intended use for the pasture and the environment.
The soil nutrient profile, or soil fertility, is critically important when looking to establish an improved pasture. Not only will this play an important role in determining whether or not a pasture becomes successfully established, but the nutrient profile may also influence the type of pasture that will best suit the production environment.
One of the main reasons that pastures fail to establish is competition from weeds.
Pastures generally do not compete well with weeds in their early stages and poor weed control in the lead up to sowing can result in pasture failure.
weeds are often very difficult and expensive to control in young and established pastures and it is always best to reduce the weed population and residual seed banks in the soil through a planned control program prior to sowing.
Different sowing and seeding techniques are suited to different situations. Regardless of the method of sowing or seeding, pastures are usually best sown in autumn as this reduces the risk of failure due heat and moisture stress which can occur with spring sown pastures.