ROSS Batten and Madeline Buckley’s Buffalo beef farm pasture is predominantly rye grass, white clover and some strawberry clover.
Bent grass has also become established and created an extensive mat over a number of paddocks.
The bent grass mat contains high levels of nutrients and carbon, but it is locked up in the root system giving limited benefit to regrowth.
Ironically, the bent grass mat protects the paddocks over winter and allows stock access.
However, in summer and dry seasons, pasture growth rates are low and applications of fertilisers work well for three to five years, but then the mat takes over again.
Renovation over where the mat has taken hold is a focus.
A soil renovator machine, the Soilkee, which was developed in South Gippsland, was used over the paddock in April 2015 and October 2015.
Last week the Batten Buckley farm was open for inspections to see if and how the soil has improved.
Healthy Soils Sustainable Farms Project Coordinator Tony Gardner from the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority talked guests through the results.
In January 2016 after 20mm of rain Tony said the paddocks were greener, plants were bigger and looked healthier, and there was more rye grass evident.
Tony said the Soilkee aerated the paddock, buried litter, top-dressed and drilled seed into the rows while minimising pasture disturbance.
He said interim results were promising.
“There has been a response from the Soilkee renovator in comparison to control and spike aerator.
“The response after limited summer rain was impressive but it has been a very harsh spring/summer/autumn.
“Lime has lifted the pH, but not shown any other major difference to date.
“… We are waiting for the autumn break to look at feed quality.”
More studies into the pasture trial, further testing and over-sowing are planned in 2016/17 and the site will be monitored until 2018.
More information is available through Landcare, or through the WGCMA webpage, www.wgcma.vic.gov.au and following the links to Gippsland Soil Trials and Demonstrations.
Promising results in Buffalo trial