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Soil Moisture and Weather Station paddock report - 15 December 2017

 

View the monthly report below (or download a printable version).

 

FLAXMAN VALLEY

 
Growing season rainfall (Apr-Dec):
411mm
Estimated available soil water capacity:
15%
Soil type: Sandy loam over clay
Pasture type: Phalaris/ryegrass/clover based pasture
Current pasture status
(see photos below)
Composition: Phalaris 45%, Ryegrass 35%, Other grasses 10%, Clover 10%
Estimated Feed on Offer (FOO): 2900 kg DM/ha
Paddock and grazing management 70 cows including their calves (stocking rate of 20 DSE/ha) grazed the paddock between 26/11-1/12/17.
Narrative The graph this month compares plant available water (PAW) this year (green line) against that from last year (purple line). It is interesting to compare the timing of the two plots. The rains this year came later and the slow start to spring meant a shorter growth window. In 2016 the profile filled earlier and stayed full longer than it did this year. The season will also finish with less water stored in the profile.

 

The PAW for the last couple of weeks looks on the surface, to be rising. Some of this is no doubt due to the recent rain, but some of the effect can also be attributed to a characteristic of many capacitance probes, whereby the indicated moisture rises with soil temperature. This is reinforced by the fact that there are still green areas in the pasture which still will be using some water.

23 November 2017

14 December 2017

 

KEYNETON

 
Growing season rainfall (Apr-Dec):
353mm
Estimated available soil water capacity:
47%
Soil type: Red loam over clay
Pasture type: Annual grass and sub-clover based pasture, including some phalaris
Current pasture status
(see photos below)
Composition: Silver grass 45%, Barley Grass 45%, Wild oats 10%
Estimated Feed on Offer (FOO): 1400 kg DM/ha
Paddock and grazing management The paddock has not been grazed for over a month. It was last grazed by 1000 wether lambs between 24/10-7/11/17 (stocking rate of approximately 7 DSE/ha).
Narrative Like Flaxman Valley, serious water use did not kick in until later in the season and finished earlier compared to 2016. But as a counter, the late spring rain has left the profile with more water than at the same time last year.

 

What happens to this residual water is an interesting question. A check of the soil moisture level at the various depths shows there is still a reasonable amount being held at 10 to 30cm, but with most focused at 40 to 60cm. Summer weeds which can establish themselves after a bit of rain, will quickly tap into the 10-30cm water and, if they get their roots down deeper, will have plenty of moisture to allow them to flourish. But if the weeds are kept at bay, this water will stay “in the bank”, ready for next year’s pasture growth.

23 November 2017

14 December 2017

 

KOONUNGA

 
Growing season rainfall (Apr-Dec):
363mm
Estimated available soil water capacity:
33%
Soil type: Red brown earth
Pasture type: Oats / vetch
Current pasture status
(see photos below)
Composition: Oats 30%, Wireweed 30%, Trash 35%, Bare 5%
Estimated Feed on Offer (FOO): 2150 kg DM/ha (not including the bales)
Paddock and grazing management The paddock was cut for hay on 16/10/17 and is yet to be grazed. The residual soil moisture and more recent rainfall events have ensured the oats have regrown, including wireweed, which is especially palatable livestock feed when it is fresh.
Narrative The rainfall and water use patterns at this site in 2017 are much closer to those of 2016 than Flaxman Valley or Keyneton. The recent rains also provided a boost to moisture levels, with PAW in late November and early December higher than they were for the same time last year.

 

Note that the PAW is still falling and this can be attributed to the water being used by the wireweed.

 

At the last paddock assessment (23/11/17) the FOO was 1700 kg DM/ha and given the current FOO is 2150 kg DM/ha, the estimated Pasture Growth Rate for the period is 20 kg DM/ha/day.

23 November 2017

14 December 2017

Thanks to Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM Board and SA Murray Darling Basin NRM Board and TOIP Pty Ltd.

Disclaimer: this report has been prepared by BIGG and TOIP Pty Ltd. It is for information only and any actions or decisions made by readers from it are at their sole discretion.

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