After we tried growing forage crops on our cultivation areas we decided it would be worth trying to establish a perennial pasture instead. We planted about 10 acres out of 20 acres as a test two years ago using Rhodes grass, Creeping Blue grass, Digiteria and Wynn Cassia.
It took a few months for that pasture to start growing and in the meantime we were worried that we had wasted a lot of time and money, but gradually the grass came up and got thicker and now we have a pretty good coverage. The Rhodes and the Blue grass are creeping, so they start to fill in the gaps.
We were able to let the cattle into graze it after about a year and since then we've been careful not to overgraze and waste all that effort. We (Pete) also slash the paddock when the grass stalks get too long. This helps to spread the seed around, return some organic matter/mulch to the soil and reduce the fire-hazard.
Eventually we hope to use strip-grazing or intensive grazing so that the cattle do the work for us. And part of that plan is planting the rest of the paddock. The cultivation area is split into three levels with contour banks between them. The test patch is half of the top tier. The lowest tier has a pretty good cover of Rhodes grass already, so we (Pete) have just been slashing that to try to thicken it.
Pete just needed to plough the rest of the top tier and the middle tier so that we could plant the rest of the pasture. We have been accumulating seed as we were hoping to do this last year, but didn't get time with all the house work. This time we also had Prairie grass, lucerne, stylo and Panic grass, so we are adding even more diversity.
We used our old International Harvester cultivator seeder. I can't believe this machine still works, but its so clever and simple, all the gears and cogs run off the wheels, so any time you tow it behind the tractor its ticking over, I love the sound of it. It has a bin for seed and a bin for fertiliser - so we also tipped in some organic pelletised fertiliser, probably not enough, but better than nothing. Last time we didn't use any fertiliser.
Apart from using the cattle to help us manage this pasture, we also want to use our sprayer to put out compost tea and liquid fertilisers. Eventually.... but for now we are just waiting again for that seed to sprout!
Here's what I wrote in 2013 when we were first thinking about the idea of a perennial pasture instead of growing forage:
|Growing forage vs perennail pasture|
And here's what I wrote in 2015 when we finally planted that first test area:
|Planting a perennial pasture|