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Pasture advice following floods

There will be many things for producers to consider in the aftermath of the major flood event that recently hit the far North Coast. The North Coast Local Land Services Agricultural Advisory team has provided advice for producers to consider in the management of their pastures as it is likely that farmers will now be assessing the level of damage to pastures caused by the flooding.

Flooding will affect pastures in different ways depending on the length of time pasture was under water, the flow rate of the water, the amount of silt and debris, the pasture species and the soil type.

Nathan Jennings, Senior Land Services Officer said, “Considering the recent flooding event happened in autumn it is important to remember that for tropical pasture species such as kikuyu, setaria, rhodes grass, couch and carpet grass, this is near the end of their growing season.

“Depending on the level of damage the pastures have suffered there is very little time for these species to recover prior to becoming dormant over winter.”

The length of time pasture was under water is not the only factor to consider when assessing the degree of pasture damage. A combination of factors including soil type, speed of water flow, the water quality, and water depth all contribute to varying levels of pasture damage. However, the longer the pasture is under water the greater the potential for severe pasture damage or losses.

Nathan also discussed the importance of farm location in the catchment area that will determine impact. “The speed the flood water moved over your land can also effect pasture recovery potential.

“Providing the soil has not eroded - the quicker the water has moved over your farm, the better the pasture recovery, the slower the water moved (and therefore the longer it lays over pasture) the more silt and mud is likely to be deposited on the pasture and the slower the pasture recovery will be.”

Nathan continued, “Interestingly, the taller the pasture was when it was flooded, the slower recovery is likely to be as this is due to the taller material catching more sediment, which then falls over and smothers new emerging shoots.

“This material is seldom palatable to cattle.”

Replanting pasture can be expensive and for some they may choose to do nothing. Nathan suggests that before deciding to do nothing, farmers consider the longer term effects.

“If you do nothing to flooded pastures you will likely find that in time, tolerant species such as couch grass will come back first but at least for couch, not until it warms up.”

“Annual grasses and broadleaf weeds will establish from self-sown seed and may mean that the longer term carrying capacity of the paddock/s will be lower than when they had more productive pasture species dominating.

“All options need to be considered depending on all of these factors,” Nathan concluded.

Detailed pasture management information is contained in three Fact Sheets available from the North Coast Local Land Services website:

Two fact sheets are also available from the NSW Department of Primary Industries website:

If you would like to discuss pasture management options following the floods, please talk to your local rural supplier or contact Nathan Jennings from North Coast Local Land Services on 0457 989 946 or 1300 795 299.

Primary producers who are have gained access to their paddocks are also still being encouraged to report flood damage, including stock and fodder losses, as well as damage to farms, fencing and other farm infrastructure.  Contact North Coast Local Land Services on 1300 795 299.

Media contact:

Nathan Jennings, Senior Land Services Officer, 0457 989 946

Photo captions:

Long term impacts on pastures will need to managed by primary producers