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Beyond the Bale : Aug 07 - Sep 07
By Fiona Conroy The need to rebuild a bank of clover seed depleted after a poor spring in 2006 and two false autumn breaks is the deciding factor in Brad Wooldridge's plan to reuse the Timerite® program to control redlegged earth mites this spring. Timerite® provides farmers with the date for a single spring spray that controls redlegged earth mite through to the following autumn. Mr Wooldridge, a Western Australian woolgrower, has watched the clover base of his pasture decline as a failed spring cut short flowering and seed-set. Spring was followed by late autumns, marred by false breaks, where clover germination failed. "After two tough years we need to give the clover that's remaining every chance to set seed," he says. Mr Wooldridge runs 3000 Merino ewes and a small Suffolk stud on 550 hectares of pasture and crops a further 650ha on 'Warialda' at Arthur River. Half the ewes are joined to Merinos and half are joined to Suffolks, with all ewes lambing in July. One of the challenges on the farm, apart from the weather, has been dealing with mites in crops and pastures. "We started using the Timerite® program to control redlegs about five years ago and treated every pasture on the property three years in a row," he says. "We got on top of the earth mites, so two years ago we switched from Timerite® to using a winter control program of two sprays one month apart. "The winter spraying program turned out to be a nightmare: it involved twice as much spraying, it was hard to get on wet paddocks and the weather wasn't always ideal. We also had to de-stock paddocks at a time when we were short of feed to observe withholding periods, and there was the added pressure to get crops sprayed. "It made me realise just how good the Timerite® system is because it involves one spray, the weather is better, there's less pressure on paddock feed and the days are longer, so you can manage the workload." Last year, Mr Wooldridge leased some extra land in March. It had redlegged earth mites and also required winter spraying. "I had planned to use Timerite® in October 2006, but our spring cut out extremely early. We were under a lot of stress to get jobs done in the lead-up to the drought and missed the Timerite® spray date. We are now at the point where we need to take control again and cut numbers to a manageable level." Mr Wooldridge will be ensuring that a Timerite® spray this spring is a management priority, especially for paddocks where pastures have been resown. "Timerite® controls the redlegged earth mite before they damage the clover going into seed-set and before the mites have a chance to lay eggs. We're hoping for a better seed-set and a reduced redlegged earth mite hatching in pastures next autumn when the clover germinates." ú More information: AWI Helpline 1800 070 099; www.timerite.com.au Spring the right time for mite control After trying another method, WA woolgrower Brad Wooldridge is now thoroughly convinced of the advantages of the Timerite® program 22 PASTURES BEYOND THE BALE AWestern Australian farm trial that started out looking at extending pasture phases has shown that managed pastures can carry more sheep during spring and carry them longer, due to pasture longevity. The trial was organised, with local support, by the national Grain & Graze program to extend current thinking about rotational practices. "The year-in, year-out rotation is common in the region," Avon Region project manager Linda Leonard says. "Farmers do it to improve the cropping component of their operations, as they generally accept that wheat is the most profitable of their enterprises. But farmers are becoming aware that good pasture management can drive productivity, and can be the key to increasing overall profit." Stephen and Linley Rose agreed to compare a straight, four-year pasture phase and the year-in, year-out rotation on their property 'Tooarvee', near Wickepin. The Roses grow cereals and run a straight Merino flock, with Mr Rose's pasture management typical of farms in the region -- Timerite® spray topping, pasture manipulation and annual fertiliser application, and controlled grazing. Over the years, Mr Rose's practice has been to sow clover on an 'as needs' basis, but in May 2005 he had put down his four-year pasture with the support of Grain & Graze technical officer Kristy Baker. It was a mix of species -- Prima gland clover, Santorini yellow serradella, Rocket and Tetilia Gold tetraploid ryegrasses and Dalsa subterranean clover. The control site was in volunteer pasture and the treatment site in high- performance pasture. "Stock and pasture availability were monitored regularly to prevent widespread over-grazing, and to ensure stock condition-score increased rather than decreased," Ms Leonard says. "On average, sheep were grazed at four dry sheep equivalents (DSEs) in the first year to maintain even grazing pressure, and stock were removed when the pastures set seed to increase germination in the second year." The table shows the results after two years of pasture. "It is still too early to determine if longer-term pastures are as profitable when you compare them to cropping, but pasture management and utilisation do have positive benefits," Mr Rose says. As well as extending their pasture phases, collaborating farmers were being encouraged to adopt other sheep- management technologies, such as 'hands-on' condition-scoring, pasture monitoring, manipulation of sheep numbers when required and faecal egg counts to check worm populations. "Mr Rose has found condition scoring and weighing a useful practice," Ms Leonard says. "By taking part in the Grain & Graze demonstration he has found it gives a more accurate understanding of what is going on with his sheep, and now believes the visual assessment he has been using isn't accurate enough when the sheep are carrying wool." ú More information: Sam Clune, Grain & Graze Avon Region, 08 9690 2000, www.grainandgraze.com.au Case made for dedicated pasture phase A trial organised by the Grain & Graze program has shown that pastures add value to mixed-farming businesses Results of demonstration -- winter/spring mob ONE YEAR (VOLUNTARY) PASTURE PHASE FOUR YEAR (SOWN) PASTURE PHASE DSE rating 1.65 1.70 Sheep grazing days per ha 946.0 1,111.0 Average weight in (kg/hd) 40.4 52.1 Average weight out (kg/hd) 59.9 71.5 Average condition score in 2.9 2.8 Average condition score out 3.3 3.4 Average weight gain per day (g/hd) 107.0 127.0 PHOTO: EVAN COLLIS Woolgrowers can obtain their optimum Timerite® spring spray date by contacting AWI or visiting the Timerite® website. A location's Timerite® spray date remains the same each year, so growers only need to get their date once. Brad Wooldridge
Aug 07 - Sep 07 Supplement
Jun 07 - Jul 07 Supplement