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Thread: 'Hypothetical' rotation

  1. #1
    The ruminant
    Guest

    'Hypothetical' rotation

    I've been daydreaming about the perfect rotation for improving the soils, improving fertility, OM levels, etc.

    I am not a cropping expert - far from it - but as a starting point have come up with the following hypothetical rotation, assuming there are no limiting factors (eg cattle can be used everywhere, fences and water are good, capital is not restricted etc):

    Yr 1 - Milling wheat (d/d'd), followed by:
    Yr1 / yr2 - Forage turnips - d/d'd after wheat, strip-grazed by cattle, then in the spring:
    Yr 2 - Spring Malting Barley, d/d'd and undersown with clover, followed by:
    Yr3 & Yr 4 - Itallian ryegrass/westerwolds, mob-grazed by cattle, followed by:
    Yr 5 Oilseed rape, autocasted or d/d'd

    Given that most of you on the d/d page know soils and know cropping, what do you think? What would you change? What would you throw your hands up in horror at?

    My thinking is that you'd have cow muck 'applied' to the soils at the end of year one, and again in year's three and four (and possibly at the back end of year 2 also) Therefore, huge amounts of manure being added to the soils. Additionally, mob-grazing has been proven elsewhere to increase soil OM. The combinable crops are high value crops which would require little or no inputs, given the improving fertility of the soil. Finally, the deeper rooting turnips help with soil structure (albeit the cattle on the land in winter might have a negative effect unless managed carefully.

    Soil type would be medium to heavyish clays.

  2. #2
    martian
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    Sounds spot on, certainly planning along those lines...not sure though about how to mob graze the winter covers. Isn't the idea that you only let them on a tiny area for 48 hours? Do you spend your winters moving electric fencing?

  3. #3
    martian
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    ps aren't you meant to webinaring?

  4. #4
    marco
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    sounds ok, but i would go for a larger mix of species of cover crop. maybe 5-7 different species. maybe oats/wheat/turnip/fodder radish and possibly rye grass. the thing i see with winter grazing is people put i a single species cover and have to supplement "roughage" if you can include cold season species like the cereals i've posted it will be a big help i should think. Plus it will stop the mess in the corner where you have the ring feeder

  5. #5
    peasantman
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    Could be a tight timescale getting the forage turnips in after wheat and then grazed off before it gets so wet that poaching becomes a problem.

  6. #6
    JD_Kid
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    sell the cow's or cut and carry off the fields

    kales etc have better rooting systems the turnips under DD tend to bulb on top of the ground

    clovers under sowen with crops can lead to spraying probs and in some cases harvest probs

    year 4 i think you would be subsoiling pre drilling oilseed rape ..

    i would forget about any harvesting crops a 100 H p tractor a cheep 3 Pl sprayer a simple DD a quad bike and a good set of cattle yards FA total investment contractors in for hay/silage etc spray and drill best crops suited for the weather etc

  7. #7
    peasantman
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    Quote Originally Posted by JD_Kid View Post
    sell the cow's or cut and carry off the fields

    kales etc have better rooting systems the turnips under DD tend to bulb on top of the ground

    clovers under sowen with crops can lead to spraying probs and in some cases harvest probs

    year 4 i think you would be subsoiling pre drilling oilseed rape ..

    i would forget about any harvesting crops a 100 H p tractor a cheep 3 Pl sprayer a simple DD a quad bike and a good set of cattle yards FA total investment contractors in for hay/silage etc spray and drill best crops suited for the weather etc
    The worse the weather, the more we are thinking of this approach with our sheep. This winter we are feeding them on the field and the poaching and grass damage is bad, their feet are having problems, and the turnips are bust with frost in the ground. Sheep eating forage just to keep warm.

  8. #8
    The ruminant
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    Quote Originally Posted by martian View Post
    ps aren't you meant to webinaring?
    Yes! I drafted most of my post before it started, and typed the last few lines during the introductions.... but only listened to half as I was called out

  9. #9
    Willscale
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    I reckon:

    Try and use more than just stubble turnips for grazing. You may have a later harvest and need different plants to fill gaps. Maybe a Pedders mix?

    I would only strip graze if you can back fence. Otherwise some sort of paddock job but enable access back to water. Needs to be a five minute a day job though. I don't think for cover crops like this you need to move so often as every day if you didn't want - so some periods could be a few days over xmas so something.

    Spring Barley and clover - what herbicide's work? Is the grass undersown then? It may work fine but will you compromising 1/2 of spring malting barley?

    I don't think you can autocast osr after grass. you will need a drill but this seems to work well. maybe subsoil if you wish but I think you will eventually think sod it but its not a lot dearer to subsoil in osr as it is drill.

    It is along similar lines to what I think/do but spuds still knackers my plans.

  10. #10
    Willscale
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    Quote Originally Posted by peasantman View Post
    The worse the weather, the more we are thinking of this approach with our sheep. This winter we are feeding them on the field and the poaching and grass damage is bad, their feet are having problems, and the turnips are bust with frost in the ground. Sheep eating forage just to keep warm.
    The problem is hooves and the number of times hooves on the same patch imv.

  11. #11
    The ruminant
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    Quote Originally Posted by martian View Post
    Sounds spot on, certainly planning along those lines...not sure though about how to mob graze the winter covers. Isn't the idea that you only let them on a tiny area for 48 hours? Do you spend your winters moving electric fencing?
    I was thinking more strip grazing than mob grazing - and in the back of my mind I'm thinking some strategically placed round bales of straw could be unrolled on already grazed land so the cows have somewhere to lie, and some more OM to tread in... but the additional straw might cause drilling problems

    Maybe I should use a stripper-header to harvest the wheat, drill the turnips (or whatever - *see below) straight into the standing straw, then let the cows trample it in as they grazed. It might reduce the poaching effect too

    * I like the idea of a mixture of cover/winter feed crops, especially after watching the webinair. That could be the significant adjustment I'd make to my hypothetical farming system.

    I'd also like to add chickens - broilers - to the mix, following immediately behind the cows over the pasture to add high N guano, fenced in with electrified netting and moved every three or four days.

    It's all hypothetical, of course. However, with little need for NPK, reduced agrochems, no cultivation-drilling etc the input costs would be very low, and such a system might be very viable.

    Now, where's my calculator

  12. #12
    peasantman
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    Quote Originally Posted by Willscale View Post
    The problem is hooves and the number of times hooves on the same patch imv.
    That's right. But what to do? If we keep moving the ring feeders we will probably end up poaching the whole field - not severely, but enough to damage the grass, restrict infiltration etc. So we feed them in one area (the highest sandy area nearest the gate and put down pin rush straw to keep them out of the mud but it's far from ideal. We have huge LGP tyres on the feeder tractor so it floats but we can't do much about the hooves. Alright when its frozen but a mess when it thaws.

    Beginning to think they would be happier on straw in a well ventilated shed over winter, as some folks do round here. Through the footbath once a week. Maybe Nocton's got it right in some ways?

  13. #13
    Willscale
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    Quote Originally Posted by peasantman View Post
    That's right. But what to do? If we keep moving the ring feeders we will probably end up poaching the whole field - not severely, but enough to damage the grass, restrict infiltration etc. So we feed them in one area (the highest sandy area nearest the gate and put down pin rush straw to keep them out of the mud but it's far from ideal. We have huge LGP tyres on the feeder tractor so it floats but we can't do much about the hooves. Alright when its frozen but a mess when it thaws.

    Beginning to think they would be happier on straw in a well ventilated shed over winter, as some folks do round here. Through the footbath once a week. Maybe Nocton's got it right in some ways?
    I'm sorry i'm not sure what your doing. Cattle or sheep? On grassland or on winter roots? direct drilled or tilled?

    I think overwintering all cattle, all winter is a hard ask. I do think that extending your season both sides of the season is eminently possible though. Equally in Lincs straw may be cheap enough and the shed is already there...

    Rush straw addresses the symptom of letting the animals in one place a lot. Whats the cause? Ring feeders and letting them go where they want.

    Divide it up. Why not put a bale out in paddock or backfence. And let them deal with it one day and move the strip on the next day. If you look on the livestock thread at what YC does with her cattle they are moved so land gets rested. What I try to do with my sheep is paddock up the fodder turnips into five day grazing sections. And keep them off the rest of the time.

    ps. not trying to tell you what to do - just trying to give you some ideas if you're interested.

  14. #14
    The ruminant
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    Quote Originally Posted by JD_Kid View Post
    sell the cow's or cut and carry off the fields

    kales etc have better rooting systems the turnips under DD tend to bulb on top of the ground

    clovers under sowen with crops can lead to spraying probs and in some cases harvest probs

    year 4 i think you would be subsoiling pre drilling oilseed rape ..

    i would forget about any harvesting crops a 100 H p tractor a cheep 3 Pl sprayer a simple DD a quad bike and a good set of cattle yards FA total investment contractors in for hay/silage etc spray and drill best crops suited for the weather etc
    I want the cows to spread as much of their own muck as possible. I want to cut down on time spent bedding yards. I want to cut down on machinery costs. In my hypothetical farming system, of course.

    Is this just a pipe dream?

  15. #15
    JD_Kid
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    can be done with the cows but cropping can up set things IE late harvest /early autrum could lead to poor seeding times for other crops ..
    that would be my biggest fear

    back in the 1970's there was a rotation i seen in a farming mag for grazeing cattle used kales rapes oats grasses etc etc etc total out up per acre was 2 or more times higher than just mono cropping i have gone in DD rape stubble still with sheep on it only removeing them when the new seed is starting to strike ..

    can be done quite eazly i would also add try to have tradeing stock not breeding if you could get to killable weight before realy needing to house then spell fields getting back in to tradeing stock early spring .. not a lot of point makeing a rod for your own back

  16. #16
    martian
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    Quote Originally Posted by The ruminant View Post
    I was thinking more strip grazing than mob grazing - and in the back of my mind I'm thinking some strategically placed round bales of straw could be unrolled on already grazed land so the cows have somewhere to lie, and some more OM to tread in... but the additional straw might cause drilling problems

    Maybe I should use a stripper-header to harvest the wheat, drill the turnips (or whatever - *see below) straight into the standing straw, then let the cows trample it in as they grazed. It might reduce the poaching effect too

    * I like the idea of a mixture of cover/winter feed crops, especially after watching the webinair. That could be the significant adjustment I'd make to my hypothetical farming system.

    I'd also like to add chickens - broilers - to the mix, following immediately behind the cows over the pasture to add high N guano, fenced in with electrified netting and moved every three or four days.

    It's all hypothetical, of course. However, with little need for NPK, reduced agrochems, no cultivation-drilling etc the input costs would be very low, and such a system might be very viable.

    Now, where's my calculator
    Wasn't there some guy in America following his mob grazing with chickens, but leaving three or four days before bringing the chickens in? That way the pats firmed up and the maggots got big enough to provide chooks with high protein diet. They do your muck spreading for you then, too. Great fun. However, I don't know what part of Hertfordshire you're from, but we have a lot of foxes (killed 100 this year so far) mostly kindly brought to us by the thoughtful and humane N London boroughs. Chickens don't last long, you'd want a foolproof electric fence.

    Love the system though, let us know when you find your calculator...

  17. #17
    The ruminant
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    Quote Originally Posted by martian View Post
    Wasn't there some guy in America following his mob grazing with chickens, but leaving three or four days before bringing the chickens in? That way the pats firmed up and the maggots got big enough to provide chooks with high protein diet. They do your muck spreading for you then, too. Great fun. However, I don't know what part of Hertfordshire you're from, but we have a lot of foxes (killed 100 this year so far) mostly kindly brought to us by the thoughtful and humane N London boroughs. Chickens don't last long, you'd want a foolproof electric fence.

    Love the system though, let us know when you find your calculator...
    Yeah, Joel Salatin is the guy in America who has chickens following behind the cattle. George Henderson also did it in the twenties and thirties (just read his book - 'The Farming Ladder' which is where I got the idea from).

    We've got a gamekeeper who likes shooting foxes, and if I did it, I'd use electrified netting, letting them roam over three or four days worth of grazing in one go (so they didn't need moving too often as the netting would take some setting up and moving, I think)

  18. #18
    Willscale
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    Salatin makes it work because he is an excellent marketeer. So where is your sales outlet for the chickens?

    Otherwise go for it - it will work if you want to make it work. Get the best drill you can and chase the dream for you won't be happy until you've done it. Keep flexible as well if needs be.

  19. #19
    Steakeater
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    I find it quite hypocritical how the whole idea of this is to improve the soil but then you want to outwinter the cows on the land all winter? Surely that would destroy the soil! Sheep would maybe be a better animal for your idea Ruminant!

  20. #20
    The ruminant
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    Quote Originally Posted by Steakeater View Post
    I find it quite hypocritical how the whole idea of this is to improve the soil but then you want to outwinter the cows on the land all winter? Surely that would destroy the soil! Sheep would maybe be a better animal for your idea Ruminant!
    Blimey, being called a hypocrite for a hypothetical question I posted 16 months ago... scary! My thoughts have moved on quite a way since then - I've met 20-odd different farmers from 7 different countries and have a much clearer idea of how I need to proceed. However, I'm not posting it on here for various reasons (bored with scepticism; not wanting to divulge trade secrets; & fear of my comments coming back to haunt me in 18 months' time when my views have developed still further...)

  21. #21
    martian
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    Funnily enough I was just mulling on this old thread last night and there it is. Looking at where we had the cattle grazing 'Pedder's Mix' in the autumn, followed by sheep on the regrowth just before drilling, the ground is in remarkably good nick and the barley has come up a treat. But they were only on it for a week or two.

    As Ruminant says: it was a happy pipe dream; but overwintering in this part of the world wouldn't be impossible, with enough cover in front of you. The trick is not to let them roam about too much, moving them on and letting the ground recover.

  22. #22
    Steakeater
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    Quote Originally Posted by The ruminant View Post
    Blimey, being called a hypocrite for a hypothetical question I posted 16 months ago... scary! My thoughts have moved on quite a way since then - I've met 20-odd different farmers from 7 different countries and have a much clearer idea of how I need to proceed. However, I'm not posting it on here for various reasons (bored with scepticism; not wanting to divulge trade secrets; & fear of my comments coming back to haunt me in 18 months' time when my views have developed still further...)
    Please don't take my comment to heart, I was merely wanting to spark debate on the subject as I have been studying the whole thing so much myself but just feel that sheep may be better than cattle in a no till rotation due to less trampling. I just want to find out whether I am wrong or not? . The Australian research on no till I have been reading has recommended no animals at all for instance!

    As for the skeptics, just ignore them and if they can't see the wood for the trees that is their problem! I.e. Keep posting your findings as a lot of us ARE interested to learn!

  23. #23
    marco
    Guest

    Re: 'Hypothetical' rotation

    strip grazing cattle would be the only option i guess. moving them on to avoid poaching, faster in wetter weather etc. graze a third trample a third and spray off the rest in spring.

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