Grazing no-till residues.

 

Grazing no-till residues.

 

Stalks can be an important part of a farms fodder flow, but one must be careful not to look after your cattle in winter at the expense of your following summer crop.

 

Last years cover is vital for your next crop by improving infiltration and reducing evaporation.  It also stops the ‘exploding’ effect the rain drop has on bare soil thus reducing capping.  Stalks have a ‘damming’ effect, reducing erosion and improving infiltration.  Surface organic matter is vital for biological activity and general soil health.

 

It is therefore vital not to overgraze your lands.  I allow the cattle to only take the ‘cream’, the loose sluffs and the few whole mealies that have stayed behind.  I use a simple guide to know when to move the cattle on.  When cattle first go into a land, they hardly look at the lick I provide.  After a few days they become marginally interested in it.  As the ‘good stuff’ in the lands starts to finish, they suddenly become very interested in their lick, this is when they must be moved.  If it rains the cattle must be move out of the land, because of compaction.  One must therefore have an alternate source of feed for your cattle in winter.

 

After a poor crop one must beparticularlycareful, as there is not much residue and a much higher percentage of it palatable to the cattle.  There is always much more cover the day the cattle move out of the land than the day you plant, don’t ask me where it goes to, so rather leave too much than too little.

 

By Bruce Shepherd