Home' Smart Farmer : February 2014 Contents Smart pastures
Woodside-based agricultural contractor Kym Gladigau advises farmers to get
their soil tested in summer to get a head start on understanding the type of
fertilisers required before the autumn rush.
Summer care can work
wonders for pastures
By MAX OPRAY
THE hotter months are often
considered a good time to take
a break from pasture manage-
ment, but some experts are saying
there is plenty to take care of now to
keep the land productive year-round.
Woodside-based agricultural con-
tractor Kym Gladigau said getting
sorted early could pay off big time for
He says fertiliser ordered in the
next month comes in at a much more
favourable price, and that dolomite
and lime stocks often run out when
farmers need them most.
"They should get lime early as
stores can run out and cause delays of
four to six weeks during peak usage
times," he said.
"That can mean you end up spread-
ing too late when everything has gone
muddy, and you don't want that."
For those planning to use lime to
fix subsoil acidity, Mr Gladigau said
a line of products coming onto the
market this year offered plenty of
New forms of prilled lime come
in granular form, meaning they can
be used in a normal seed drill or
spreader, allowing farmers to dis-
tribute lime while they are spreading
This could spare farmers the
expense of bringing in a contractor
to spread traditional powdered lime,
which requires access to a specialised
Mr Gladigau also said now was the
best time to get soil tested in order
to understand the type of fertilisers
required ahead of the autumn rush.
He advised farmers get in touch
with their local supply store to buy
testing kits along with a soil probe.
"Soil testing should be done with
a proper probe, not just a spade
or some piping which will produce
inferior results," he said.
Mr Gladigau said accurate soil test-
ing required an even sample down
through the soil profile, to a depth of
A spade tends to take an angled
sample, with more top soil than
subsoil, leading to misleading results.
"Some people think you can use a
piece of galvanized pipe, but then the
zinc from the pipe will seep into the
readings and your zinc measurements
will go through the roof," he said.
"Steel piping, meanwhile, would
give an overly high iron content,
particularly if it is rusty."
SARDI pasture research officer
Carolyn De Koning agreed that
accurate soil testing was crucial, but
was not so sure if now was the best
time to do it.
"There's a lot of theories out there
as to when to do it," she said.
"Plenty of people do late summer
or early autumn, but the trouble with
that is the soil becomes so dry and
hard it can be difficult to get it (the
testing apparatus) into the ground."
Ms De Koning preferred spring,
when soil had more moisture and
was easier to dig into.
She said the important thing was
not so much the time of year to test
the soil, but to make sure the testing
patterns were consistent.
"Whenever it is people do their soil
test, they should make sure they do
it at the same time of year from that
point on," she said.
"That way they can get a long-term
picture of what is happening to a
particular paddock over time."
She said if farmers were not confi-
dent about analysing test results, the
best advise was consult an agronomist
to interpret the data.
Instead of soil testing, Ms De
Koning said the top priority for
landholders over summer should be
managing grazing patterns.
She said overgrazing was a real
danger during the early part of the
year, particularly on the back of a
Best time to buy lime, fertiliser
Keep up regular soil testing
Overgrazing main danger
hot, dry spring such as the one just
"Even on subterranean clover in
the hills, sheep are so good at finding
burrs," she said.
"Perennial pastures too need a
good, long rest period."
If there is a paddock lined up for
renovation, grazing can be reduced
on other plots by concentrating live-
As for weed management, Bayer
CropScience Mid North manager
Graham Hatcher confirmed there was
no need to spray pastures during dry,
hot summer months.
He said the ideal time to apply
herbicides depended on rains, but
typically fell between late May and
early June for much of SA.
"Get in when the weeds are small,
around a coffee mug size rather than
dinner plate size," Mr Hatcher said.
He put forward Jaguar and Tigrex
as leading post-emergent broadleaf
herbicides, with both able to take
care of invasive plant species such as
Salvation Jane and capeweed.
He said both handled weeds equally
well but that Jaguar was the only one
that could treat lucerne pastures.
As for what farmers should be
doing right now, he had one piece of
advice: "The only thing you want to
be applying to your land right now
• Need to know more?
Kym Gladigau 08 8538 7131, or take
a look at the SARDI pastures website,
Call Brenton on 08 8659 0000 or 0428 810 088
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