On the South Coast we have seen renewed interest in pastures and more tree farms coming out of production. This was the catalyst behind a CSBP pasture trial at Many Peaks.

The last 5 to 6 years have seen a large number of tree farms coming out of production and  back into  cropping  or in this case  pasture.

With this in mind the Metcalfe site was selected, three years ago it had been in trees for about 15 years. CSBP wanted to look at optimising pasture production, and if anything different needed to be done coming out of trees. The results so far have been fantastic.

In 2015 the paddock was limed, 220kg/ha Super Copper Zinc Moly was applied and it was re-sown with a mix of rye-grass and sub clover. The site was set up really well which is a credit to Metcalfe’s.

The trial design included eight treatments including three rates of Super Phos Extra (0, 150 and 300 kg/ha). Muriate of Potash was applied in autumn and /or spring. The trial also looks at the benefits of applying NK11 in spring.

With talk of responses to Boron (B) on sub clover over East, we also included a B treatment. 

The treatments were replicated three times for scientific analysis.

Soil tests in February 2017 identified phosphorus (P) the main profit driver (table 1).

Metcalfe trial - Table 1

Table 1: Soil test results

Up until 20 September, we measured a 40% increase in dry matter (DM) M production from Super Phos Extra (Table 2). The extra 2 t/ha of dry matter produced with 300 kg/ha Super Phos Extra  would support another 4 DSE/ha. 

While we are awaiting results from our late October measurement, observations indicate a late spring response to potash and NKS11 applied at the end of August.

Metcalfe trial - Table 2

Table 2: Day matter production

Plant test results from late June showed: 

• Increasing (P) uptake with increasing rates of Super Phos Extra.
• Marginal potassium (K) where not applied.
• High copper (Cu) zinc (Zn) and molybdenum (Mo) levels possibly attributable to Super CZM being applied in 2015
• Adequate boron (B) without application

Metcalfe trial - Table 3

Table 3: Plant test results

This trial highlights the importance of treating pasture like a high producing crop. Attention to detail with manipulation, or in this case re-sowing, controlling insects, good nutrition is maximising the increased production.  

In summary, this trial has highlighted the potential productivity gains from targeted fertiliser applications.

Metcalfe pasture trial

Winter DM response to 300 kg/ha Super Phos Extra (RHS) compared to  Nil (LHS). Photo taken 8 August 2017.

Keith Gundill
By Keith Gundill
- Albany Agronomist
Keith grew up on the family farm at Three Springs and has been with CSBP for over 20 years in various technical and advisory roles.

He values the relationships he has developed with customers, and remains keen to continue to help farmers to make informed decisions about fertiliser use.

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