Peter Clinton has two properties located at Mossburn in Southland, an area which is typically known for being summer dry and having cold winters.
The properties are mainly used as a wintering support block for young stock, in-calf heifers and mixed age cows.
Growing good crops is important to Peter and a key part of that is Julia Wyatt, TSR for Farm Source Winton. Decision-making for the cropping programme is a combined effort between Julia, Peter and block manager Tom McGee. As an integral part of the cropping programme, Julia is involved with weekly monitoring of crops at key times of the year and making the appropriate recommendations for weeds, insects and nutrients.
Each year, they sow approximately 30 hectares (ha) of fodder beet and 100 ha of kale. Of that kale area, 37 ha has been Cleancrop™ Firefly kale for the dryland area, and the remainder is irrigated Regal kale.
Firefly kale is a very recent addition to the Cleancrop Brassicas system – a seed and herbicide package that helps control over 20 weeds from the time of sowing.
Adaptable to all sowing methods (direct drilling, conventional and aerial), Cleancrop is a simple and effective way to control weeds and maximise crop yield potential. Being a similar kale type to Regal kale in terms of yield potential and leaf-to-stem ratio, Firefly is a great option for areas with a challenging weed burden.
The decision to incorporate Firefly into Peter’s winter cropping programme was mainly due to the high weed burden, but also the fact the dryland area meant it was difficult to use conventional pre-emerges. The herbicide used in Cleancrop Telar™ is unique in that it only requires a heavy dew to activate the chemical, unlike conventional pre-emerge brassica herbicides which require significant rainfall within 10 days of application to activate.
In the cropping programme, fodder beet is sown as the first crop followed by kale. After the fodder beet is finished, the paddocks are ripped then later worked to a stale seed bed. The stale seed bed is left to ‘strike’ and is then sprayed with an application of glyphosate and insecticide. Kale is sown at four kilograms (kg) per ha with an appropriate fertiliser, and then a pre-emerge spray of either Telar for Firefly, or Ombre for the Regal crops. They are mainly chasing weeds such as shepherd’s purse which is particularly challenging, as well as spurrey, mayweed, and sometimes yarrow and nightshade. Post-emergent herbicides, insecticides and urea are recommended by Julia when required.
Heifers begin to arrive from the dairy farms to graze crops from the second week of May, closely followed by the mixed-age cows which start on crop towards the end of May. The diet starts predominantly with silage, then daily intakes increase to 10kg of dry matter (DM) per head per day of kale and 4kgDM/head/day of silage.
While on crop, Tom expects a body score condition (BSC) gain of up to 0.5 on the kale diet, before the cows move off crop in late July to early August. On dryland, the Firefly yielded between 10-11 tonnes (t) of DM/ha and the irrigated Regal approx. 16 t DM/ha.
For more information about what the Cleancrop™ Brassica System could offer your farm system, contact your local Farm Source TSR for more information.
Article supplied by PGG Wrightson Seeds