A customised Sowsmart HDL blend of medic, clover and sub clover has shown versatility across numerous seasons for Scott Nicholson, of Campbells Bridge, north of Stawell in the Wimmera region of Victoria. Mr Nicholson sowed the blend of Enduro Balansa Clover, Cavalier Medic, Dalsa Sub Clover and Clare 2 Sub Clover in April of 2011, as a pasture choice for grazing and hay production. “We looked at the medic option to replace a bit of vetch,” he said. “It has looked good and we’ve sown a bit more around the place.” He said while vetch has been a good option it does not provide the pasture options over numerous seasons that the HDL blend has.
In 2015, the blend is going into its fifth year of production and the plan is to then rotate the paddock into a canola crop followed by a wheat crop. “After four or five years the paddock will be set up for cropping with minimal inputs,” Mr Nicholson said. After a short-term, two year cropping phase the plan is to utilise the medic seed remaining in the ground to regenerate the pasture. Over the first four years of the HDL blend production, the pasture has gone through many different seasonal conditions and provided good grazing and hay options. In all of the seasons the pasture was grazed during different stages of the winter and spring and, in 2013, the paddock was locked up and cut for hay. Mr Nicholson said 2014 was an interesting year with good rainfall early which allowed the pasture to provide a bulk of feed in early winter. “It showed, that year, its potential to grow early. In the winter time you really need the feed.” Sheep grazed the paddock early and then it was saved for lambing.
The 70 acre paddock of Sowsmart HDL had 450 cross bred merino ewes which lambed down more than 700 lambs. Sheep had been pregnancy tested prior to putting them into the area. Mr Nicholson said the sheep were taken from the paddock in early spring and the area was grazed again in the middle of November. The pasture continued producing good feed in spite of spring conditions which saw very little rainfall across the region. A pasture phase in the cropping rotation also provided another option for weed control, with Wimmera ryegrass the major challenge in wheat crops. “Wimmera ryegrass is our number one challenge in the crops,” Mr Nicholson said. “Once the ryegrass gets out of control we go back to pasture,” he said. The pasture phase allows grazing and herbicide applications to help control ryegrass. Mr Nicholson said the blend of Cavalier medic, clover and sub clover has worked particularly well. “Each year a different one has really dominated,” he said. The success of Cavalier medic has meant it has been grown more on the property with a paddock last season planted to it and vetch. That particular area was left to seed and then cut late for hay.
The key to the pasture phase on the property is to plant varieties that will provide good grazing and forage opportunities at different times of the season and respond to the varied weather conditions. Longer term pastures are preferred so there is not necessary to sow every paddock every year.
Scott Nicholson, with Lewis and Ruby, of Campbells Bridge, VIC inspecting a customised SowSmart HDL blend which has provided grazing and hay options over the past four seasons.