Winter Management Can Cut Losses Through Runoff

GLOBAL - By using simple grazing techniques such as back-fencing and water course protection, overland flow can be reduced on winter forage crops, the AgResearch study team has found.
calendar icon 11 July 2013
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This is thought to have implications for the sustainability of cattle farming as winter forage grazing paddocks are linked to a disproportionate share of total annual farm nutrients and sediment losses, the AgResearch team has explained. 

The test looked at two different types of management. One group of cattle - the control group - started at the bottom of the hill and strip grazed up with no back fencing or stream fencing. 

In second group - the strategic grazing group, cows entered the forage area at the top of the paddock, were strip grazed down hill, were back fenced every 4-5 days and eventually restricted from the area near the stream when it was reached. 

Dr Ross Monoghan, senior soil scientist at the AgResearch Centre,  described the strategic grazing method as a means of protecting the most vulnerable area.

“The strategic grazing method was a combination of protecting the critical source area (CSA) from stock by fencing, and grazing the least risky areas first and grazing towards the higher risk areas. This effectively left the most vulnerable areas with minimal soil damage for as long as possible throughout the winter season."

“Protection of the CSA, gullies and areas prone to soil saturation is a key part to reducing overland flow and sediment loss. Grazing the CSA can still occur, but only when soil conditions allow. These grazing managements are relatively simple to implement and low cost.”

Further trials have been announced through the year to assess the effects of grazing control on paddock run off. 

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