Marginal fields are usually earmarked for this transition, but is it worthwhile establishing cultivated pastures on these fields?
A number of benefits
Cultivated grazing has the potential to improve soil health, prevent erosion and reduce weed invasion. It can also be used as an affordable livestock feed. In addition, perennial cultivated grazing that has been established and managed correctly, has a productive lifespan of at least five to ten years.
When doing their planning, producers can include good quality cultivated grazing as a standard option in their fodder flow programmes. This grazing can aid in increasing the farm’s carrying capacity, provided it is adequately fertilised. Producers who do not have a lot of land available, will be able to increase their production.
Disadvantages of this system
With so many crops and mixtures available for cultivated grazing, producers will have no problem supplementing their fodder flow during certain times of the year.
Then again, cultivated grazing can mean additional capital expenditure – firstly to establish the grazing and then to maintain it. Most experts recommend a good fertilisation programme to improve the pasture’s yield and quality, especially in the case of irrigated grazing. If grazing is not fertilised adequately and managed correctly, it will require re-establishment before long.
Producers will therefore have to step up their game in terms of planning and management, to make sure grazing is successfully cultivated. Some crops only need to be grazed or cut and baled during certain times of the year, while periods of rest will assist crops to recover before being grazed once more. The height at which livestock graze must also be controlled in some cases, so as to ensure that the grazing is correctly managed.
The basics of cultivated grazing
A thorough process is needed to establish cultivated grazing. There are three aspects that require consideration: suitable species, optimal soil conditions and the weather.
Be sure to select a crop species that is well adapted to the environment, and make sure the plant is suited to the type of soil as well as the pH. The crop must also be able to tolerate area-specific weather conditions and withstand any drought or flood conditions that may occur.
It is also prudent to take the livestock that will utilise the grazing into account. The purpose of the grazing must be determined beforehand – for example, will it be used to finish calves or overwinter cows?
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