Winter crop planning webinar
The webinar offers rural professionals and contractors tools and knowledge to support farmers across New Zealand make decisions around selecting paddocks and crops for next winter.
There are many factors to take into account when deciding which paddocks to graze cows on next winter. Choosing your paddocks carefully is important as it affects the yield of the crop, the cost of establishing and growing the crop and ultimately whether you will have a successful winter.
Consider the risk matrix below. If your paddock is high risk, consider options to mitigate the risk. Where a paddock is high risk for more than one factor, consider options to winter in an alternative paddock.
|Slope||Flat (less than 7°)||Rolling (7-15°)||Steep (more than 15°)|
|Waterways||None||Alongside paddock||Within paddock|
|Critical Source Areas||None||Drain to grass||Drain to waterway|
|Shelter available||Yes||Very little||No|
(soil fertility and weed and pest issues)
|Good fertility and no weed and pest problems||Fertility OR weed and pest issues||Fertility AND weed and pest issues|
|Ease of management for staff||Multiple access points and easy access to reticulated water||One access point and no reticulated water|
Consider creating a draft grazing plan prior to sowing your crop. This will help to highlight any factors of the paddock that will make the paddock difficult to manage.
Note that it is important to check your regional council’s regulations and use these to guide your wintering decisions. Information about wintering regulations for your region can be found at your regional council website.
The history of a paddock can have a significant impact on its potential yield. Each paddock on farm will have a different history. In regard to growing high yielding winter crops, it’s good to know the paddock’s soil fertility and it’s weed and pest history.
Many agronomists are happy to visit the farm on a regular basis to monitor your crops for weeds, pests, diseases and any nutrient deficiencies. Discuss your expectations with your agronomist before the crop is planted
Where possible, plant crops in areas with resilient soil types that are less prone to pugging damage. These soils will also be more resilient to winter grazing and will be able to be regrassed earlier.
Shelter and water
During cold, wet and windy conditions, cows become susceptible to cold stress. Where possible, plant crop in paddocks with good shelter. Alternatively, allow a feed buffer in your budget to account for feeding extra on cold, wet or windy days.
Cows must always have access to fresh water. Water can be provided by a permanent trough or by portable water troughs. Before planting your crop, make sure that your cows will be able to access water whilst grazing it.
Careful management of winter forages will significantly reduce losses of nutrients, soil and E. coli.