This should come as no surprise that homegrown pasture is the cheapest and best option for maximizing profits. Farms like yours that grow more feed and utilize that feed efficiently capture more capital. This brings us to the subject of growing more feed. Learn with us ways to Maximize profits by growing more feed in your flourishing pasture.
Productive farmers across the globe like yourself grow the feed in their pasture to maximize their farm profits. It is estimated that utilizing every additional tonne of pasture DM/ha brings in $300/ha of profit. The query begs for an explanation and that’s what we discuss today.
There are two steps to maximizing profit from your homegrown feed.
- Grow more feed on your farm and
- Feed/utilize more of this homegrown feed.
Growing more feed on your flourishing pasture is about reaching your farm’s true potential. A pasture with greater potential of providing high-quality feed would fetch more $/ha. In this article, we will explore the dimensions of increasing homegrown feed.
Let’s start. The first thing to consider is whether your pastures are reaching their full potential or not? Knowing this would set the tone for how to maximize profits from the homegrown feed.
Figure out if your pasture is at its full potential
It is time to carry out a pragmatic assessment of your pasture. For this purpose, assess the dry matter growth and quality of the pasture. We recommend using Pasture.io’s satellite app to accurately assess pasture growth rate and learn which paddocks are not performing well.
With this information, progressive farmers like yourself can make informed decisions and learn how much pasture is being produced. Make an accurate assessment of how much nutritional value your pasture is delivering and look for the gaps that need to be filled to reach the maximum potential your pasture can offer.
Draw out the following information;
- Carrying capacity of your pasture
- Rate of weight gain of livestock
- Market compliance of your pasture
- Health of livestock
- Calving rates
The next step is to determine if these values are below or above average in your region. This will give you an idea of the current positioning of your pasture and help you lay out a plan for a better-performing pasture.
Ways to Increase feed grown on your pasture
There is another incentive to grow more feed on your pasture, it will reduce the dependence on a supplementary feed like grain and fodder, and help meet the market compliance. This increases the competitive advantage for farmers.
Below are some techniques to increase the homegrown feed.
- Identify and grow the right species while keeping in mind the environmental factors and seasonal bottlenecks.
- Manage the soil health and take measures to avoid nutrient deficiencies.
- Taking proper measures to address the issue of weeds and pests.
- Selecting species that are drought tolerant and resilient. This will vary according to the region.
- Improving DM through pasture renewal.
- Sowing additional crops to fill the feed deficit (for summer or winter).
In this article, our focus is on improving the DM through renewal and sowing additional crops to fill the feed deficit.
Plan for purpose
Sowing additional crops or the renovation of pasture are time taking and costly options for every farm and so before going with any of these options determine the purpose behind it and plan accordingly. There can be several purposes. For example;
- To fix the problem of low pasture productivity
- To shift pasture surplus from spring to Summer
- To fill the feed gap in summer/winter
Set the Plan in motion
Now that you have decided to improve pasture yield and dry matter production, let’s set the plan in place.
1. Choose the right paddock
The selection of the right paddock is of crucial importance for cropping or renewal. While choosing the right paddock, consider the following;
- Paddocks that have the lowest annual yield,
- Paddocks that are under grazed,
- Soil fertility of every paddock,
- Records of cropping history, and finally
- If the plan is for dairy cows, determine the distance cows will have to walk.
These points can be determined easily with the previous records. We recommend using Pasture.io’s satellite imagery tool that provides accurate records and helps pastures improve performance with the history of records.
2. Lookout for feed deficit
Pre-plan for a possible feed deficit when certain paddocks are taken out of rotation. List your options and pick the ones that are most economic to manage. You can look at supplementary feeding methods outlined by Pasture.io.
3. Pick your mix
Let’s rewind your ‘Plan for Purpose’ and pick your pasture mix accordingly. It was one of the following.
1. To fix the problem of low pasture productivity
Well, that means you have carefully led to determine that you need to increase the pasture yield. Now that you come to choose the right mix, here are some options to consider.
- Tall fescue
2. To shift pasture surplus from spring to Summer
If you are looking to shift the spring surplus to the summer, that means there is a summer feed deficit in your pasture. Now, pick the mix that meets your unique farm goals and provide for a consistent feed supply. Some of your good options are:
- Maize Silage
- Summer Turnips
3. To fill the feed gap in summer/winter
You are never wrong to pasture. So, to fill an autumn or winter feed deficit, some of your options can be:
- Fodder beet
4. Choose the right method
Now that you have chosen the right paddock and determined the right mix for your farm, it is time to decide which method to choose. Well, the method will depend on your purpose of renovation or adding a crop to the mix. Your most practical option will be one of the following.
This renovation method is less expensive as compared to other methods. It quickly puts the paddock back into rotation. However, it has a poor yield.
2. Direct Drilling:
Direct drilling has its perks. It is less expensive and takes less time. It retains the soil moisture and enters back into rotation quicker than cultivation. Also, direct drilling results in less nitrogen leaching.
Again, it can have poor yield if not handled efficiently.
Cultivation has its many advantages. It is the right choice to control the weed and pest problems. It reduces the soil compaction thus effective against pugging damages. It provides consistent results and good soil coverage.
The downside to cultivation is how expensive it is. It takes longer to put back into rotation and can lead to higher nitrogen leaching.
Well then dear farmer, grow more feed and let your pasture reach its full potential. Only through this will you accrue more farm profits for your business.
This brings us to the end of the article- until we meet again, Happy Farming!
- The Dedicated Team of Pasture.io, 08 March 2022