The correct management of pasture during the summer period is critical for pasture performance and persistence.
Grazing management varies across seasons and it is important to look after pasture during the summer to ensure rapid recovery following rainfall. As well as this, alternative species can be chosen to aid in pasture performance during dry spells.
Good pasture management through summer dry conditions is essential for ongoing pasture performance and persistence in following seasons. Perennial ryegrass should always be grazed at the 2.5 – 3 leaf stage. Leaf development can be much slower during the summer period when plants are under stress. As a result, the grazing frequency should be reduced and feed demand decreased, which may require complete destocking in severe conditions.
The best performing permanent pastures should be identified and those paddocks prioritised for the best care. The ryegrass plants carbohydrate energy reserves are stored above ground, so it is important not to graze these pastures to the boards. Poorer performing paddocks should be sacrificed for feeding out supplement and harder grazing if necessary. This will ensure the best paddocks have quicker recovery following rainfall and are able to provide feed the following seasons. Sacrifice paddocks are likely to require resowing in autumn; however identifying the best paddocks early and looking after them will ensure the cost of pasture renewal following summer dry conditions is reduced.
Different species will vary in their tolerance to dry conditions. AberLasting Caucasian x white clover, has an increased root system compared with traditional white clover. The rhizomatous roots (gained from the Caucasian clover parentage) provide the plant access to more water and nutrients. The addition of AberLasting to any pasture mix will increase the water use efficiency and drought tolerance of the pasture.
Following rainfall, it is important that pastures are still handled with care. Over grazing during this period can damage pastures if they have not had the chance to restore their carbohydrate reserves. It is not until the ryegrass plant is at the 2–3 leaf stage that its reserves begin to be replenished to pre–grazing levels. Grazing prior to this and failure to restore reserves will decrease the plants ability to produce tillers and survive stressful periods, thus ultimately reducing pasture persistence.