Production

Grass is greener with wet season spelling

Beef Central, 01/12/2011

Research by the Northern Territory’s Department of Resources (DoR) indicates that wet season spelling is the most effective way to restore pastures to a more productive state.

Like a car or road train, pastures need some regular repair and maintenance to keep them running at their best.

Continuous grazing year after year puts a lot of pressure on preferred grasses which can be lost from paddocks.

In a press release issued today DoR’s Dr Dionne Walsh says having proper land management plans in place helps to determine when to spell and how it’s done.

“Most producers who use spelling do it to improve the bulk and composition of their pastures and/or improve land condition.

“To improve land condition, spelling needs to occur during periods of active pasture growth, and that is the wet season, with the early part of the wet season being the most critical time to spell.

“Tussock grasses are very vulnerable to grazing in the first 6-8 weeks of the growing season, so spelling during this period produces healthier and stronger growth.

“If the goal is to increase the bulk of feed, cattle can be reintroduced once the majority of the grasses have achieved their maximum growth, half way through the wet season.

“If you are aiming to increase the seed bank and allow new seedlings to establish, then cattle should be kept out of the paddock until the dry season.

“To maximise the success of the spelling, you should apply stocking rates in line with the long term carrying capacity of the paddock and the season’s feed situation.”

“Wet season spelling is a key part of the long-term land management plans that pastoralists are encouraged to have in place to ensure sustainable development of their properties,” Dr Walsh said.

Producers can get advice on designing a spelling program and estimating safe stocking rates from the Department of Resources.

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