Sowing and Establishment

  1. Soil Test. Paddocks selected for renovation should always be soil tested 6-12 months before sowing to identify possible fertility deficits.
  2. Species Selection and Endophytes. It is important to choose species and endophyte types suited to specific geographical regions and stock types.
  3. Sowing Rates.As a general rule, pastures should be sown at rates of 15-35 kg/ha. The actual rate sown will depend on species used, drilling method, seed treatment and specific local conditions or experience.
  4. Sowing Methods. Choosing the right sowing method for your situation is of importance.
  5. Pest Control. New pastures can be subjected to pest and disease pressure. Several granular insecticides and seed treatments are available to protect the emerging seedlings.
  6. Grazing Management. New pastures often benefit from a light grazing at 6-8 weeks after sowing. This encourages the grass plant to tiller and also assists clover establishment by allowing more light into the base of the sward.
  7. Subsequent Fertiliser. New pastures benefit from early applications of nitrogen applied from 3-4 weeks.

  • Cultivation. Pasture species require a fine, firm seedbed for optimum establishment. Excess trash and large clods will diminish results
  • No-tillage techniques. Pasture can be successfully established through no-tillage systems. The use of a total vegetation killer preliminary spray, such as glyphosate, will provide the best results. Add a broadleaf herbicide if necessary. A delay between spraying and drilling will aid moisture retention and reduce pest populations
  • Drilling. Pastures should be sown at a depth of 10‑20 mm (any cultivars that differ from this will be highlighted in this book). The establishment of clovers will be adversely affected by sowing at a depth greater than these levels. Under all cultivation systems the use of harrows behind the drill will improve seed to soil contact.

The Basics

  • Plan and prepare for success. Implement a renewal programme which addresses any limiting factors such as drainage, soil fertility, pests and weeds.
  • Choose an appropriate cultivar. Where pests are prevalent, an appropriate endophyte is a key consideration.
  • Establishing new pastures is about achieving a satisfactory level of tillering and root mass. From this point, a pasture will be resilient to ongoing grazing requirements and the challenges associated with periods of summer dry or winter wet.
  • Allowing new pasture to reach the 2.5-3 leaves stage before grazing will ensure individual plants build up energy reserves required for tillering and root growth.
  • Walk new pastures on a regular basis. Assess how far away they are from establishment targets, and plan for the necessary grazing management, fertilizer application and weed control.

Ongoing pasture management

  • Many of the recommendations for new pasture management continue to apply after the establishment period as persistence is all about maintaining tillers and root mass. A well established pasture will be more resilient to typical seasonal stresses and grazing requirements, however a higher standard of ongoing management will extend the lifespan of a pasture considerably.
  • Supply ongoing fertiliser requirements according to a soil test and yield targets, and control broadleaf weeds.
  • During challenging seasons, timely and appropriate adjustment of stocking rates, grazing residuals and round lengths is essential for recovery and persistence Pasture renewal, particularly with modern cultivars and endophytes, presents the opportunity for improved farm productivity.

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