This year's ASHEEP Winter Field Walk on 20th July 2021 took us to Mark & Liv Walter's farm in Cascade, where Mark took us through their Leafmore Brassica. This is one of the varieties that we have been working with in the ASHEEP / MLA Pasture Variety Trials and it was great to see it being put to use on commercial scale. ASHEEP's thanks goes to Mark for providing an update on the progress of the brassica throughout the season.
Article by Mark Walter, ASHEEP Chair
The photo to the right was taken 9th May 2021, as I let sheep into the paddock. I'd sown 500 ha of Leafmore Brassica into paddocks that had a good history of medics. It had received 25kg of MAP fertiliser and 2kg of seed. It grew fast early and was ready to graze 2 to 3 weeks earlier than vetches. We put it in to bulk up the medics for early feed, as we couldn’t obtain enough vetch seed.
The second photo on the right was taken on 26th July. The paddock (220 ha) had been set-stocked since the first photo with 900 hoggets and 700 preg-tested single ewes. I'd also fed out loose mix mineral supplement and straw, which they hadn’t eaten. The stock showed no signs of any scour and had lambed well. They were just starting to show N deficiency signs.
The image below was taken 6th September. The medic was coming in and I'd started to see that higher seeding rate was probably beneficial for companion plants, and was glad to see the medic doing well. It was still stocked right up until this photo with same ewe numbers. Moth damage had kicked in and was becoming quite severe.
The next photo, to the right, was captured 4th October. The Diamondback Moth had all but killed the brassica. I'd taken the sheep out two weeks prior. I’d say that the brassica is a good option in a mix, sown in February. It has phenomenal early growth but as Theo has told us many times, the moths are going to flog it from late Spring. Not much is left in the paddock once stock have eaten the leaf off.
Bottom right shows a photo taken on 29th November, after having sprayed out the paddock with 2ltr RUP and 500 ml ester. It has grown back from the base. The plants numbers are pretty sparse but they look very healthy after a bit of rain in November.
I would grow it again in a mix with vetch, for early growth.