Farmers should be prepared

By Carmen Hall

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Nitrogen-based fertiliser is being placed on paddocks throughout the Bay but Federated Farmers warns some farmers may be over-estimating pasture recovery after the rain.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients sales general manager Andrew Reid said fertiliser sales had dropped due to the drought but returned to normal after the recent deluge and floods.

He said its team of field staff was advising farmers on the best strategies for drought recovery.

Warm soil temperatures meant the conditions for pasture growth were favourable.

"At the moment ground soil temperatures are still in double figures so it's really conducive to good strong pasture growth. Our advice to farmers is to put on nitrogen or maintenance fertiliser now while the pastures are still actively growing."

The biggest limitation would be the cooling ground temperatures and shortening of day length, he said.

Federated Farmers dairy chairperson Willy Leferink said farmers need to focus on winter.

"Farmers need to ask themselves this question: Have I seriously got enough feed to ensure optimum stock condition in spring?" he said.

"I am encouraging all farmers to speak with farm advisers to ensure they have the right quantity and quality of feed on hand."

Bay of Plenty dairy farmers had already spent an extra $46 million on feed this year.

Federated Farmers Grain and Seed had shipped 220,000 bales of rye grass hay and barley straw out of the South Island into Tauranga and other northern destinations, however that could stop due to demand.

Vice-chairman David Clark said demand for feed was slowing.

"Unless we get uplift in demand - and soon - this operation will finish within weeks."

Anything germinating now is for spring and there is still winter to come, he said.

"We are genuinely worried that farmers in drought-hit areas are over-estimating pasture recovery and underestimating winter."

- Hamilton News

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