Key steps to soil health and spring cultivation.

healthy soil for spring cultivation

Increasingly customers are demanding their food is produced in a sustainable way and where animal welfare implications are considered. Meeting the expectations of consumers in these aspects is becoming increasingly important. Soils are an incredibly important part of farming and in order to farm sustainably into the future, we need to manage and maintain soil health to prevent soil related issues such as erosion, excess nutrients, contamination and loss of carbon.
Key steps for planning spring cultivation are:

  1. Well planned crop rotation.

When it comes to the health of a farmer’s soil, having a well-planned crop rotation can increase yields of summer forage crops in ways that contribute to a more profitable and sustainable business. The problem is how to increase the percentage of grazing platform, while providing enough spring silage to stay self-contained is a balancing act for all farmers at this time of year.

  1. Good quality pasture.

Good quality pasture silage is a good source of energy and protein for a milking cow and can be used as a fibre source when feeding high sugar or starch feeds. However, a poor quality pasture silage (made from low quality pasture, or ensiled with low quality fermentation, or both) will not support high milk yield and will only be suitable for dry cows, or as a fibre source to reduce risk of acidosis.
Try looking to regenerative agriculture if you have not done already this is a system that requires less chemicals, carbon emissions and nitrates, super-healthy soil and plants growing like crazy. See more on farming the regenerative way.

  1. Identifying and resolving performance problems.

Take steps to identify the lowest producing paddocks, comparing those with the best performing paddocks and identifying why the paddocks are the lowest producing. Treating problems such as drainage, pugging, soil compaction, overgrazing, weed, and pests before introducing new plants will improve performance.
Some interesting resources:
Mineral composition and nutritive value of some common pasture weeds
Weeds as soil indicators
Common insect and plant pests on-farm

  1. Cultivation and fertiliser.

Ploughing and cultivating poor performing paddocks early spring after calving, along with capital fertiliser is the solution. Most farmers know their worst and best paddocks, however measuring and assessing pasture growth can give a more accurate result. New pastures with later heading varieties help with pasture quality. This in turn will create a higher ME, leading to greater liveweight gains, contented stock, and more production.
How we can help with your soil and cultivation: