How to supply Humus, Texture, and Fertility by the Aid of Deep-Rooting Grasses
by William Lamin
An account of a Grassland Experiment in the County of Nottinghamshire conducted on the farm of Mr. A. Howard Lamin
By Mr. A. A. Johnson (New Zealand)
Although the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is now embarked on a country-wide system of ley farming, there are some areas throughout England where the advantages and possibilities of ley farming are not at all clear.
In the drier areas to the east, the useful benefits which can be derived by the use of a long-term ley in place of a one year clover has yet to be proved, but it would seem that the most logical way of exploiting this ley farming system would be to retain the present acreage of arable land in the normal rotation and to restrict the long-term leys to that area of the farm which is normally in permanent grass. It would be wise at this point to emphasize that it is only on farms which have a fertile free working type of soil that this policy should be implemented.
This is a broad outline of the system which it is intended shall be followed on Mr. A. H. Lamin's farm at Bingham. A considerable area of the farm has been devoted to the production of ar!able crops such as barley, wheat, potatoes, sugar beet, but with the main emphasis being placed on the potato crop.
By the use of a rotation which incorporates the sowing of mustard to be ploughed in as a green crop and a one year ley to provide hay plus a certain amount of green material to be ploughed,in, this land has been maintained in a high state of fertility so that there has been no ill-effect on the level of production obtained from these cash crops.
At one end of the farm, however, there was an area of permanent grass which was used to graze bullocks during the spring, summer and -autumn. After considerable discussion it was agreed by Mr. Lamin that a far greater output of grass should be possible from this area of land.
In the accompanying diagram, you will notice the general set-up of the area which is being reseeded this spring, and in order to make the general policy clear, it is necessary to outline the mixtures which will be used.
A -- 7-1/2 acres 4 lb. Italian rye grass (N.Z. cert.) 12 Perennial rye grass (see Note 3) 12 Cocksfoot (S143 or S26) 3 Late flowering red clover (see Note 2) 2 White clover (N.Z. cert.) 1/2 Wild white clover (certified Grade B) 33-1/2 lb. per acre B -- 9 acres 4 lb. Italian rye grass (N.Z. cert). 20 Perennial rye grass (See Note 1) 6 Timothy (S48) 3 Late flowering red clover (see Note 2) 2 White clover (N.Z. cert.) 35 lb. per acre C -- 9 acres: 4 lb. Italian rye grass (N.Z. cert.) 20 Perennial rye grass (See Note 1) 6 Timothy (S48) 3 Late flowering red clover (See Note 2) 2 White clover (N.Z. cert.) 35 lb. per acre D -- 9 acres 4 lb. Italian rye grass (N.Z. cert.) 20 Perennial rye grass (See Note 1) 6 Cocksfoot (S143 or S26) 3 Late flowering red clover (See Note 2) 2 White clover (N.Z. cert.) 35 lb. per acre E -- 4 acres 4 lb. Italian rye grass (N.Z. cert.) 20 Perennial rye grass (See Note 1) 4 Timothy (S48) 4 Cocksfoot (S143 or S26) 3 Late flowering red clover (See Note 2) 2 White clover (N.Z. cert.) 37 lb. per acre
Note 1. 20 lb. perennial consists of 6 lb. S23 and 14 lb. of S24 or New Zealand certified.
Note 2. Order of preference if seeds available: S123 late flowering red of New Zealand origin, late flowering red of English origin.
Note 3. 12 lb. consists of 6 lb. S23 and 6 lb. S24.
Field marked F. This field (see plan below) is actually a trial field and has been sown with three mixtures, namely, a rye grass-clover mixture, a rye grass-timothy-clover mixture and a rye grass-cocksfoot-clover mixture.
(a) 8 lb. Italian rye grass (N.Z. cert.) 6 S23 (Perennial rye grass) 20 S24 or N.Z. cert. perennial rye grass 3 S123 2 White clover (N.Z. cert.) 39 lb. per acre (b) 4 lb. Italian rye grass (N.Z. cert.) 6 S23 14 S24 or N.Z. cert. perennial rye grass 3 S123 6 S48 (Timothy) 2 White clover (N.Z. cert.) 35 lb. per acre (c) 4 lb. Italian rye grass (N.Z. cert.) 6 S23 14 S24 or N.Z. cert. perennial rye grass 6 S26 (Cocksfoot) 3 S123 2 White clover (N.Z. cert.) 35 lb. per acre
At right angles to the three strips there is a herb strip which consists of the following mixture:
(d) Herb Strip 10 lb. Chicory 20 Ribgrass 10 Burnet 1/2 Yarrow 2 Wild white clover 10 Meadow fescue (S53) 52-1/2 lb. per acre
You will have noted in the preceding chapters of this book, that stress is placed on the need for a deep-rooting type of pasture and the point behind the inclusion of this herb strip is to ascertain just how useful deep-rooting herbs are in this particular association of herbs, grasses and clovers.
It is intended that a policy of rotational grazing will be adopted in order fully to utilize the grass production of this reseeded area.
Each of the fields is approximately the same area with the exception of the small four-acre piece in the corner, so that it should be possible to maintain a fairly sound policy of rotational grazing.
Since the mixtures vary from a cocksfoot dominant sward to a rye grass-clover sward, there will be a difference in the peak production period which will be obtained on each field.
It is intended to benefit from this different peak period so that the maximum broadening of total production can be obtained with the early production which is obtained from the hay type of rye grass followed by the later maturing perennials, cocksfoots, and timothies, and therefore, there will be an attempted levelling in production.
Thus, the whole set-up of this venture hinges on the following salient features:
(a) A difference in the mixtures to attempt to level out and lengthen the peak production period of the pasture.
(b) The concentration of the grassland area of the farm in a composite block rather than scattered throughout the arable area.
(c) An approximately equal sub-division of the area plus an adequate water supply which will allow the real science of controlled rotational grazing to be applied.
In conclusion, I would like to stress the potential value which can be derived by a really sound policy of rotational grazing so that the method of utilization on Mr. Lamin's area will be to move the cattle from the field marked A through B, F, C, D, E back to A, and so on throughout the season.
Of course, like most farming which is carried out on a paper or theoretical basis, this sounds very easy, but it may be necessary, as a result of weather conditions, to vary this policy so that we will find one field will carry the stock for a longer period at one particular part of the season, but despite this, the principle remains the same of moving the cattle so that the greatest possible good can be done to the leys at the same time as the greatest possible live-weight increase is achieved from the animals which are grazing these leys.
Next: Appendix 4
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