Soils, Pastures & Cover Crops
Sussex Farm, Gibb Rd, Red Hill, Mornington Peninsula
• Soilkee pasture renovator
• Disc Seeder
• Tyned Air Seeder
• Fix “4 in 1” (Levels, seeds, harrows, rolls)
Guest Speakers include:
• Niels Olsen, Soilkee
• Grant Sims, Down Under Covers
• Graham Wood Machinery
• Browns Fertilisers
• Western Port Tractors & Implements
• Gallagher Electric Fencing
• Fruit Fly plague control.
• Browns Fertiliser products
• Down Under Seeds products
• Pat Morrissey
• Elliot Malkin
FIELD DAY REPORT
By Ian Troutbeck
The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) Peninsula Branch, in conjunction with the MP Discussion Group, met at “Sussex Farm“, Dunns Creek Rd, on 10th July 2021 to review the performance from the VFF Field Day 3 months earlier, of the cover crops planted using various machines – Soilkee Renovator, Offset Discs and then Davey Mac seeder, Amazone Tyned Air Seeder, Fix ‘4 in 1’, Moore Unidrill, and Aervator.
There was a glimpse of cattle in the adjacent paddock, through the thick fog.
Guest Speaker Chris Alenson was very engaging and passionate about the soil, pastures, and observations. Sample pasture sods and were dug at each of the trial strips. Attendees were involved in observations and soil assessment techniques – feel (ribbon test), smell and visual methods.
Discussion on the impact that the different machines had on the soil, including pasture performance above (foliage) and below (roots/rhizomes). Chris introduced methods for assessing soils and functions of pastures – soil structure – water holding capacity – techniques for developing healthy soils – nutrient management – mineral oxidisation – mobilising the total nutrients/elements available in the soil – pasture root growth/penetration – pasture species present with different root depths. Ground cover is as important as species composition.
Niels Olsen (Soilkee) and Graham Wood (GW Machinery) helped explain the varieties of machinery and techniques used.
There was discussion on the trade-off between loss of organic matter due to (mechanical) soil disturbance vs. gain in pasture dry matter for livestock consumption. One option is to move away from rye grass dominant pastures: Introduced deep rooting perennials and ‘cover crops’ in with the rye, and rotationally graze (of course). This leaves plenty of leaf area to photosynthesise, and the bounce-back in terms of recovery will be greater. Don’t graze the mixed pasture species so low, to ensure the deeper roots do leave their carbon footprint in the soil at depth.
Chris’ main message was that all properties, soils and sites differ, you need to test and understand your own paddocks, to optimise your management response. Soil tests for chemical analysis are a must, plus a visual assessment of soil and plant indicators.
The aim is improved soil structure with greater biological activity, higher water holding capacity, improved water use, and improved soil fertility; resulting in less fertilizer requirement, less insect and disease pressure.
July 2021 Follow-Up Event
A follow-up field day in July 2021 was held to discuss soil health.
Chris Alenson fom Westernport Catchment Landcare gave a detailed talk about soil biology
Thank you to the sponsors and volunteers who make these VFF Peninsula branch events such a great community experience.