Kuhn’s Robert Garthwaite says the pasture topper,
if used in a timely fashion, could be one of the livestock farmer’s
most important tools this summer.
Front mounting of the pasture topper leaves a more complete result by avoiding wheelings, whether controlling weeds or maintain grazing quality.
In a perfect world, pasture topping is a waste of good grass,
but in a season of volatile weather and unpredictable growing conditions
it has a valuable role in optimising herbage production. It might
also be the best way to keep grassland weeds under control.
Grass grown for grazing is like no other crop. We want swards
to produce as much vegetative growth as possible throughout the
season - without heading – and that is totally against nature’s
intentions. As such, farmers need all the help they can get to
“Under an ideal grazing regime, stocking rates will be kept
at levels to maintain an optimum sward height with excess grass
mown for conservation,” says Robert Garthwaite. “But
in summers with average temperatures and rainfall it is not uncommon
for grass to grow away from stock, creating the possibility of
“When grass plants produce seed heads, production of leafy
tillers stops and energy is channelled towards generating seeds
on an erect lignified stem.
“Tactical use of a pasture topper to prevent seed heads
developing can be a very useful intervention in order to keep pastures
as productive as possible throughout the season.”
Pasture toppers are more widely used by farmers for grassland
weed control, although for some this may be more of a cosmetic
exercise than a serious attempt to end an infestation.
Certainly in an organic farming situation or on any farm where
agrochemical use may be restricted, strategic topping is by far
the best means of controlling thistles.
“Thistles must be topped before they head, but no earlier
than the end of June in a typical year,” says Robert Garthwaite. “By
leaving a clean cut stubble of several inches, the open stems allow
water down into the root, which causes rotting and kills a good
proportion of the thistles.
“It’s not a complete kill, but in a regime where sprays
are not used, it is a highly effective means of control.”
Pasture toppers will on many farms be increasingly required for
other tasks, such as field margin and set aside maintenance, so
it is important to match you machine to it full range of uses.
When replacing your worn out topper, think about wider usage and
ensure you select a machine that has the capacity and strength
to meet your needs.
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