Dry Spring how much does it effect pasture production?
The talk of an El Nino spring and summer means we should be preparing for lower spring pasture production, but by how much?
Results from a recent Drought Resilience Project supported by Southern Farming Systems through funding from the Australian Governments Future Drought Fund provides an insight into what pasture growth rates we could expect with below average spring rainfall.
Climate & pasture modelling across 5 locations in South West Victoria for September through to December showed varied results. The decline in Spring pasture growth is highly dependent on your’ location in South West Victoria, according to Cam Nicholson, Project Lead from Nicon Rural Services.
“The reductions in September are quite small, but in locations where the season naturally finishes earlier like Lake Bolac and Inverleigh, reductions in pasture growth of 40% in October and 50% to 60% in November should be expected” Cam said.
“Longer growing season areas like Hamilton are less affected in October and November, but growth shuts down at all locations by December”.
Reduced pasture growth may have implications for those running higher stocking rates, as the feed carried over into summer will be much less.
“The reduced spring growth is estimated to be about 1.5t/ha to 2 t/ha of feed” Cam said.
While some of this carry over feed naturally breaks down over summer or isn’t utilised, conservatively we could anticipate a loss 500 kg/ha of feed that the livestock won’t consume.
“Knowing this figure allows decisions to be made about selling some animals earlier or ensuring we have adequate supplements to meet the potential shortfall” Cam said.
For more detail about the project and final reports across the region visit https://sfs.org.au/project/building-drought-resilience