PDA

View Full Version : Pasture test plot, research and results



Graham
1st February 2014, 05:57 PM
Starting late in 2013, a 5mtr x 5mtr part of a standard paddock near our workshop was tested, dug over and a lime/dolomite/trace minerals fertilizer and compost regime added, then meadow forage mix sown. By early 2014, stock were grazing on it.

This thread documents the progress as we attempt to grow twice the drymatter density as present on the rest of the paddock.

6th August 2013:


Novel Ways are going to establish a forage test plot of 5m x 5m near the workshop (with permission of course). We will ensure we establish some of the three main worm species in that area, if they are not already there.

http://www.agresearch.co.nz/our-scie...arthworms.aspx

Brochure with ID photos: http://www.agresearch.co.nz/our-scie...arthworms.aspx

Background on breeding worms in NZ: http://www.wormsrus.co.nz/aboutearthworms.html

1950s research: 30% to 110% improvement in grass growth with worms.

http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/earthworms/page-5

15th October 2013:


I'm working on preparing a test plot in the paddock beside our workplace. It's only 5m x5m, but is taking a while to dig over by hand. I am not going to use herbicide to kill off the existing grasses and weeds, because I want to encourage worms and fungi etc, and I don't want to increase any local toxicity. This article on glyphosate is interesting.

http://www.organicconsumers.org/artm...2011_Huber.pdf

All around the Waikato at the moment, some paddocks are being sprayed off to the tell-tale brown colour, ready for new tilled grass seed. What if Prof Don Huber is right, and the glyphosate sticks around to semi-damage the new grasses in future? And what about the newly discovered pathogen associated with glyphosate-ready crops?

The area won't be sprayed with Roundup or derivatives.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20658223

http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/report...glyphosate.pdf

30th October 2013:


The plot has been prepared for the fert application, with half of the 5mtr x 5mtr space having the sods and contained worms and topsoil overturned on top of the subsoil layer, with remaining topsoil placed on top. The other half had the topsoil removed to the subsoil layer, two bales of hay and 10x 40litre bags of compost placed on top of the subsoil, then the overturned sods and topsoil as before.

We have picked up some of the fertilizer from farm and garden supply stores, and today the difficult small quantity trace minerals like Borate and Selenium from Ballance in Morrinsville. Many thanks for that - they were very obliging.

As far as the original plot is concerned, this was in generally a poor part of the paddock, and it's low in a few trace elements, the pH is low, there are not many worms per spadeful (about 1 perhaps) and the topsoil is compacted, but still friable when pushed. The topsoil layer appears to differ in depth from about 70mm to 300mm, and the subsoil is pumice ash, very light and free draining in nature.

6th November 2013:


A recent article mentions worms, and shows the use of penetrometers.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farm...to-soil-health

Graham
1st February 2014, 06:56 PM
30th January 2014:


Now near the end of January 2014, and the test plot has had its protective fence removed, waiting for drystock to come through on their rotation. The plot is in the south-west corner of a paddock, and the most southern half (adjacent to the other paddock through the fence) has had an extra treatment of hay and garden compost under the overturned top layer of sods and topsoil.

17

This half of the plot has noticeably more ryegrass, and seeded better. Some lower profile weeds are present in the other half, along with the meadow mix of chicory, ryegrass, clover etc. After detailed lab testing of soil and plant material, all of the plot has had a standard fertiliser regime applied first. Every six months we'll top that up, until two years has passed.

16

Graham
2nd February 2014, 10:33 AM
On 1st February 2014, a mob of dairy replacement heifers entered the paddock at about 9.00am. Within a few minutes one or two had found the test plot at the other end of the paddock from the gate. At first not much happened, but within a couple of minutes there was enough noise and jostling over the different feed, for other nearby animals to become interested. They half-trotted into the space from a few metres away until it was standing room only. Within 15 minutes of that time, the small plot was trimmed down to about the 5cm level above ground recommended by DairyNZ.

http://www.dairynz.co.nz/file/fileid/36250

There was a small amount of damage to the plants in the plot, some chicory plants being pulled out. At that point, most of the heifers moved off for some time, to eat the ryegrass and clover in their new paddock. I mistakenly did not think they would bother the plot again.

However, when I checked the plot some three hours later, some of it had been reduced to dirt, with a lot more damage to the plants, and almost no green material showing. The rest of the paddock had established grasses in it, the topsoil top layer was dry, and it had very little damage at that point, although it was obvious that the mob would need to be moved by the next morning.

To protect the test plot plants (especially the chicory), I'd have needed to fence the area off about 30 minutes after the animals entered the main paddock.

We'll now wait for the next rotation in 20 days time, to see if the plot can recover as well as the rest of the paddock, but this is not likely considering the localised attention of the heifers.

Graham
9th February 2014, 10:13 AM
We've had a bit of rain over the weekend, so I'm waiting to see what will happen with the test plot after the heavy grazing. Here is a list of all the fertilizer inputs that we'll be putting into the 5m x 5m space over two years.