I would love to learn more about improving pasture and whether it is possible organically without heavy spraying and cultivating.
Here is an interesting website which promotes 'Biological Farming', which has a huge emphasis on soil health. There could be some good information here too?
Good pasture starts in the soil,
Making sure the soil can breathe air is fundamental to improved pasture.
This is about building soil organic matter and humus (the black in top soil)
A soil test will show pH, calcium levels, and phosphorus levels
Lime is important and so is a source of phosphorus
There are plenty of organic options like chicken manure, sheep pellets and reactive phosphate rock.
I am sure the go organic course will cover soil fertility, however a good soil fertility and good aeration are critical to eliminating the need for sprays and insecticides.
I'm no organic expert, but I've been doing a bit of reading online and have found quite a bit of interesting info around growing and managing pasture organically.
Here's a bit of what I have learnt-
- a combination of grasses, clovers and herbs will give a high quality and varied diet as well as being biodiverse and stable.
- make sure you are using certified, untreated seed that is not genetically modified- perennial rye grass, white clover, red clover, plantain, chicory were all mentioned.
- grow a summer crop (eg. turnips or maize) before planting into pasture. A rotation of leaf crops following root crops works well.
- completely resow as oppose to over sowing. Oversowing is far less effective as the competition from the existing plants is too much for the new seedlings.
- use a higher sowing rate and good technique to establish a strong healthy crop.
- avoid pugging and over grazing once established as it will leave the pasture open to weed invasion, as well as pugging causing long term damage to your soil structure and erosion issues.
- good grazing management (breakfeeding perhaps) and timely topping will also help keep on top of the weeds.
- get the kids out grubbing thistles!
I see there is also a Go Organic course run by AgNZ which sounds really interesting- "Our Go Organic course will provide key knowledge and skills required for successful organic growing". Check out http://pggwrightson.co.nz/services/training/agnz-go-organic for more info.
Hope that's helpful!
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