Burnt pasture recovery

By Dairy News

MANY EASTERN Australian farm managers will be grappling with recovery after fires swept through their properties and destroyed their pastures in January.

Appropriate action will depend on the intensity of the burn, the condition of the pasture before the fire, what type of pasture was established, pasture recovery post-burn and the finance and time available.

Peter Notman and Adam Fisher of Notman Pasture Seeds have listed practical management strategies to improve pasture recovery and get it back to producing quality livestock feed.

Peter and Adam said it was important to note that the intensity of the burn would impact the potential recovery rate of pasture grasses.

“In cool-moderate burns pasture can recover provided adequate moisture and fertiliser is available after the fire event,” Mr Notman and Mr Fisher said.

“In intense hot burns where there was a fair amount of fuel on the paddock in dry pasture, all plant material maybe dead, so the area should be re-sown.”

In areas of perennial grasses an important strategy of overflowing troughs is effective in establishing the pasture recovery.

“Adjust the float valve on your water trough to make it overflow and making it irrigate a small area to see what grass plants recover with moisture,” Mr Fisher said.

“Do this two to three times to identify whether the plant populations in the paddock have survived.

“If perennial pasture recovery after watering paddock is not satisfactory then re-sowing would be required with a leafy diploid perennial rye-grass, such as Matrix.”

Kikuyu pasture would be expected to regrow after rain/moisture and should be re-sown with annual or Italian rye-grasses as per the normal practice in autumn.

For any Italian rye-grasses affected it is best practice to re-sow those paddocks regardless with a densely tillered rye-grass, such as Vibe.

“With persistent and production and extremely late heading (plus-27 days) to stay leafier for longer late in season we have received excellent feedback with Vibe from many of our customers,” Mr Fisher said.

Early re-sowing options include cereals, annual rye-grass and Italian rye-grass. All should be re-sown in autumn as per normal practice.

“A good early planting combination would be Bullet annual rye-grass and forage oats,” Mr Notman said.

“Oats are slightly quicker to start and the Bullet Annual Rye-grass provides far better quality and tonnage as the season goes on.”

Where there is an adequate regenerating pasture, or where pasture seed has been sown a fertiliser application will speed the growth and the recovery of the pasture.

“A soil test would also be recommended as a fire burns the top organic matter layer of soil. A soil test will determine if there are any problems,” Mr Notman said.

Weed control is also essential to ensure broadleaf weeds do not compete with moisture and nutrients of re-generating pasture.