Livestock producers are being encouraged to consider the nutritional value of grasses and plant them in a timely manner to maximise a property’s feed availability.
It follows a study by Barossa Improved Grazing Group (BIGG) that measured the amount of water that fell at particular sites in 2016 in real time and the length of certain grasses.
Soil moisture monitoring probes located at BIGG sites at Keyneton, Koonunga and Eden Valley show that there was a late break in June followed by an extended spring growing season and plant available water throughout summer.
BIGG technical facilitator Georgie Keynes said a number of grasses in the monitoring areas at Flaxman Valley, Keyneton and Koonunga produced lower than expected results because a very late sowing in June and July was followed up by a cold and wet winter.
Early varieties such as brassicas and radishes produced feed five weeks after sowing and provided an important feed opportunity, particularly in a cold and wet winter when other varieties may have needed to be rested.
Cereal varieties proved to provide early feed.
The added benefit of the cereals were they continued to produce feed throughout the spring and can be harvested to provide further feed opportunities in the summer months.
The opportunities for summer fodder crops, particularly Lucerne and Lucerne mixes, was highlighted with above average production.
Georgie said the results highlight different opportunities for producers, depending on where they identify their feed gaps to be.