Pasture growth was the topic of discussion at Murray Dairy’s third accelerating change performance innovation team meeting held at Pyramid Hill in December.
Share farmer Kelvin Matthews said there was some good information starting to emerge from the project.
‘‘I get challenged by the group, which is a good thing and it is interesting to hear their views on different things,’’ Mr Matthews said.
Five soil moisture probes were installed as part of the project: two in a stand of lucerne and three in permanent pasture; different watering regimes have been applied and both pasture quality and yield are measured weekly.
‘‘We are starting to get some good information and I have changed my thoughts a little when it comes to irrigating.
‘‘Based on the data from the probe I can get an extra five days before watering — and while this doesn’t save me water, I am utilising my water better and getting better pasture growth,’’ Mr Matthews said.
One of the lucerne stands is watered according to information received from the probe while the other is watered once, grazed and then watered again (this paddock is more stressed and has gone to flower early).
Mr Matthews has 70ha of lucerne and is looking to sow another 15ha next season.
‘‘Lucerne is a great summer feed and if I can give my cows two green feeds a day at 33 per cent protein, then I am happy,’’ he said.
‘‘Grazing is the cheapest way to feed your cows and I would prefer to feed the cows every bit of grass I have.’’
Tough conditions and high water prices this year have meant Mr Matthews finished irrigating his annuals a month earlier than normal.