Protecting your quality feed from weeds and pests

Barry Dow, Stephen Pasture Seeds, Northern VIC

With autumn 2019 fast approaching, this year more than most, the focus will be on maximising pasture production early after a summer of expensive hay and fodder rations.

Focusing on a few key agronomic principles can greatly impact on farm profitability by decreasing both the quantity of bought in feed but more importantly the quality of feed available for grazing.

Control of grass weeds in pastures (winter grass, barley grass, and silver grass) is an ongoing problem. Decreasing losses from grass weed infestations requires planning to reduce the potential to contaminate autumn pasture renovations.
Barley grass contamination | AusWest & Stephen Pasture Seeds
A pasture heavily contaminated with barley grass

We have all seen the paddocks like this photo above with barley grass in head that stock just won’t eat. The competition from large numbers of these grass weeds impacts severely the quality of pasture and also the volume of dry matter produced. 

A strategy to consider includes the sowing of high density legume mixes. 

Sowing a mixture of high density legumes (HDL) enables the paddock to be sprayed with a selective grass herbicide at the 2- 3 leaf stage removing all grass competition. This season in particular some legume species will be in short supply. It is important to plan and source your preferred varieties early. Varieties we will have available this autumn include: Persian (Shaftal) clover, Viper balansa clover, Benetas vetch, Coolamon, Riverina, Urana and Izmir sub clovers, a range of white clover varieties, Relish red clover and Titan lucernes available in dormancy 5, 7 and 9 range (Titan 5,7,9).

Grass weed control with HDL | AusWest & Stephen Pasture Seeds
A paddock of Shaftal Persian clover and sub clover south of Wunghnu showing effective weed control. The strip of weeds on the right was missed when the pasture was treated with herbicide.

One of the most under rated pests in pasture establishment is the damage from red legged earth mite (RLEM). It is purely a numbers game and because they are small and often not seen the treatment is often based around visual symptoms rather than preventative treatments. If you can see 200-300 mites per square metre, then you have 3-4 million RLEM per hectare of newly sown pasture.

Protect your seed asset at sowing by considering seed treatment such as our Kickstart™ seed treatment which contains Poncho Plus.
Red legged earth mite | AusWest & Stephen Pasture Seed
Red legged earth mites

Impacts from KickStart seed treatment are particularly important on root development allowing plants to develop quicker and manage stressful conditions such as hot, cold, wet, or insect damage resulting in higher plant establishment rates and consequently improved drymatter yield production.

This seed treatment can be used not only on legumes and herbs but offers protection to Italian and perennial ryegrass and the deeper-rooted cocksfoot, tall fescue and phalaris species. It’s a very valuable insurance policy against our main insect pests such as RLEM and African black beetle.

The 2018 spring was an extremely difficult period to control grass weeds in pastures. However, with planning, producers have options to control these troublesome grass weeds in the coming autumn by using high density legumes and then selective grass herbicides. Using seed treatments to control insects such as RLEM can also aid with the establishment of new pastures and contribute to a better quality and higher quantity pasture.
Treated vs Bare Seed | AusWest & Stephen Pasture Seed
Treated seed is shown of the left, vs. bare seed shown on the right.

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