Mr Soutter decided to try something different last autumn, putting in an annual ryegrass crop to give his hay production a boost after a failed spring in 2017 had left his feed supplies low.
He and his wife Sue manage ‘Ellerslie’, an 800-hectare property focusing on self-replacing Hereford cows and calves and merino sheep.
“It’s been tough going for the past two years, with annual rainfall well down on average,” he said.
“We didn’t get any hay from the spring of 2017, so we thought we’d rip up a bit of ground and put something in that would give us a better yield than normal pasture.”
With advice from Simon Hunt from Stephen Pasture Seeds, Mr Soutter sowed three hectares of Mach 1®, a high performing tetraploid annual ryegrass.
One of their better paddocks was chosen and prepared with lime prior to sowing and DAP at sowing to give the crop a good start.
“I wanted to sow it in mid to late March, but the ground was so dry it would have been pointless, so it didn’t go in until 5 May,” he said.
He said it struggled all winter with the cold and although there was some rain, it wasn’t much.
“When spring came, we were still getting only bits and pieces of rain, but it was growing pretty well,” he said.
“We might have had some of the neighbours taking a look over the fence by then too.”