There are several land management practices that can be applied during the establishment phase that will have a large impact on reducing soil and phosphorus loss.
Select grazing direction
It is important to decide how the paddock will be grazed before sowing, as grazing direction has an impact on sowing direction, especially in direct drilled or ridged crops.
To reduce overland flow and maximise filtration of contaminants by the crop plants, sloping paddocks should be grazed top to bottom. For the same reason, if there is a waterway in the paddock, feed towards it.
Reducing erosion of cropping areas during cultivation will reduce the risk of seed or crop loss at establishment and help retain valuable topsoil.
Leaving CSAs uncultivated and not planted in crop will make it easier to fence them off; this will reduce the amount of soil disturbance by machinery and stock. The pasture will also provide an additional filter for any runoff that occurs.
In sloping paddocks, when it is safe to do so, cultivate across slopes; this will slow run-off and reduce down-slope soil loss.
Sow crops, especially direct drilled and ridged crops, parallel to the feeding faces; this allows for more accurate feed allocation.
Consider direct drilling when establishing a crop to minimise soil loss.
Buffer zones are strips of pastures around CSAs and waterways that act as filters by slowing overland flow to trap suspended contaminants. The buffer zone should be left uncultivated and ungrazed to operate effectively.
In flat paddocks, there must be a buffer zone at least 3 metres wide between the crop and any waterways. If the slope of a paddock is greater than 7o, the buffer zone should be 10-15 metres. Check out your regional council rules for details about the buffer zone requirements in your area.
TIP: On an iPhone, enter the compass app, and swipe right to access a protractor to measure the slope of your paddock.
Buffer zones can be fenced off using temporary fencing any time before the crop is grazed. If CSAs have a tile drain underneath, contaminants have a direct route to waterways, so it is especially important to keep stock out of these CSAs.
If a paddock is renowned for getting particularly muddy therefore difficult to walk through, an option is to fence off an access strip along the length of the paddock to allow staff to easily access gateways.
Set out baleage
To reduce the need to drive heavy equipment on wet soils, place bales strategically throughout the paddock prior to winter, and use ring feeders when feeding the baleage.
Keep the bales well back from waterways to avoid stock congregating near waterways.