Could you find your gumboots?

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What condition are your gumboots in? I’ll bet a few of you have had to go digging in the shoebox and clean out the spiders lately.

Many areas, particularly in the south, have had a lot of rain/water recently (thoughts are with readers still waiting for their season to break). Other than the obvious damage from floods, what other impacts are there from lots of moisture?

The most important thing you can do is keep a close eye on what is happening. Green grass, wet socks, and Christmas aren’t a reason to relax and expect everything to be okay. The 1st RCS Grazing Principle & the 1st RCS Soil Health Principle is to Plan, Monitor and Manage. What is your operational plan, how are your plants and animals performing, and based on what you are seeing, what do you need to change? Different conditions require different management so make sure you’re proactively managing your current reality.

Unfortunately, saturated soils can actually decrease soil health. At it’s extreme the soil ‘drowns’ and you end up with anaerobic conditions. The plants and soil bugs that we mainly work within agriculture aren’t designed to operate without air. You’ll have some plants growing that can handle saturated soils better and be more active. Look after these plants as they’ll be helping repair soil health. If they can’t do their job then it will slow down recovery.

Be flexible. Your initial crop or grazing plan may not be feasible now. What can you do, where can you go, what will work?

Insects, pests and diseases love wet conditions. Pest control methods that are effective in other years may not be good enough this year – monitor carefully and adjust accordingly.

Wet country and pest pressure can cause livestock to lose weight (or not gain any) despite the greenery. As well as monitoring pest pressure, always offer livestock dry feed so they can get enough roughage for their rumens to function. What is their dung telling you?

Long grass growing seasons can result in low protein levels in the later parts of your growing season. Energy levels will still be high from the fresh growth however you might need to consider protein supplementation (e.g. urea) earlier than normal to optimise performance.

David McLean
RCS Chief of Delivery

David McLean