Managing pasture productivity
Several factors affect pasture palatability and productivity. Consider the following when managing and monitoring a pasture for long-term productivity.
Leafiness of pasture
Leafiness and protein content of leaves are key determiners of a plant's palatability and productivity, and vary between pasture species. Nitrogen/protein content changes throughout the year and varies between the plant stem and leaf.
Properly managed perennial grass provides bulk and cover all year which helps maintain soil condition and effective use of rainfall. A decline in this cover can lead to inefficient energy capture, a loss of nutrients to the plant and less pasture leaf produced per mm of rainfall, which will reduce your land's stock carrying capacity.
Age of plants
Most pastures provide maximum energy and protein for the first 40-60 days. After this, the nutritional value of the pasture drops unless there is continued pasture growth.
Legumes provide an additional protein source for grazing animals and contribute nitrogen to the soil, which is then used by other pasture grasses. Legumes retain their digestibility longer than grasses.
Pasture needs a rest period so it can set seed and produce to its maximum potential, especially after heavy grazing or burning.
Used correctly, fire can help you to manage grazing lands.
Timber and woody weeds
A good tree-grass balance is best for long-term maximum production and sustainability. However, as trees and woody weeds require a lot of water for growth, less of them mean more water is available for pasture growth.