ABOUT ROSS WATSON

PASTURE IMPROVEMENT SPECIALISTS

Ross Watson Agriculture P/L is one of Australia’s leading independent providers of pasture agronomy advice.

Our point of difference is our extensive and independent technical agronomy knowledge, combined with our extensive “hands-on” field experience with all facets of pasture agronomy and management . We do “walk the talk” every day. We have over 30 years experience in agronomy consulting, which include all facets of pasture improvement. From paddock preparation, pasture establishment techniques such as conventional seedbeds, direct drilling and aerial spray-sow pastures, to pasture species selection,  soil nutrient and fertility management, fertiliser selection and programs, weed control, and grazing management.

We are the recognised specialists in pasture establishment, management and development programs. We are often engaged to help clients, both small and large, beef cattle, thoroughbred horses, dairy farms and mixed crop and livestock operations to develop detailed farm development programs which are appropriate for the various agricultural land classes throughout every farm.

Over the last 20 years Ross Watson Agriculture has been become recognised within the Australian Thoroughbred Industry as the leading equine pasture agronomist, consulting to all the major thoroughbred studs and being the agronomist responsible for the pasture redevelopment on many of the leading established studs as well as being engaged to design and implement the pasture and farm development of many new stud farms throughout Australia.

We pride ourselves on providing personalised, one on one, pasture agronomy advice to a full range of clients, such as lifestyle properties, broadacre primary producers, as well as large corporate clients throughout Australia as well as internationally. Key client service areas include, the Hunter Region, Northern, Central and Southern Tablelands and Slopes regions of NSW. We have been engaged to provide pasture agronomy advice for specific clients in Victoria , South Australia, King Island and South East Queensland.

We also consult to various government agencies, industry groups, farmer interest groups and corporate agribusinesses. We have also been regularly engaged to undertake independent research and development work in pasture species evaluation, fertiliser product evaluation and the development and evaluation of herbicide products for some of the Australia’s leading agribusiness’.

Our other services include, property assessment, farm planning, farm budgeting and benchmarking, legal support and expert opinions, research and development of agricultural products, working with government agencies on agricultural and land management issues.

We can also provide you with the full range of farm contracting services to establish and maintain your pastures.

We do “walk the talk” everyday !

Career Background.

Ross Watson commenced his agronomy consulting career in 1980, when his was appointed as the District Agronomist with NSW Agriculture at Scone , in the Upper Hunter Region of NSW. He quickly became recognised and respected by famers and the ag-industry for his knowledge and advisory skills in many areas of pasture and forage crop agronomy , farm development programs and  pasture / woody weed control. He excelled in his work developing new pasture establishment methods such as aerial-spray sow and direct drill pasture improvement programs. He authored many leading and popular extension and advisory publications, on pastures, fertiliser and weed control, while in the position as District Agronomist at Scone, many of which are still referenced and used today. In his service at Scone , Ross was the longest serving Agronomist ever to occupy that position , (which still stands), with 16 years of exceptional service until 1996. There is not many farms that he has not been on in the Upper Hunter. He loved his time in that position and had established a strong following within the farming community in this Region as well as central and Northern NSW.

In 1996 he formed Ross Watson Agriculture to service clients in the Upper Hunter as well as other areas of  NSW and Interstate. This was the first agronomy consulting business of its type in the Region at the time. Ross Watson Agriculture is a long standing and respected agronomy consulting business today.

Today he continues to offer that experienced, professional and independent pasture agronomy advice that producers have come to trust and admire.

He has always been “a leader in his field” and his company continues to deliver this level of service to his clients !

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Here are the mug shots of the 2 MOST UNWANTED weeds in pastures!
With current favourable seasonal conditions these plants are very active and easy to see from November to March, with their distinctive growth and flowers.
St Johns Wort with its distinctive 5 petal yellow flowers, with long yellow stamens as well as its distinctive opposite leaves and branches. Blue Heliotrope is becoming one of the most rapidly spreading weeds in our area. It has a dense dark green groundcover, with prolific blue flowers and a musty smell.
I strongly recommend you be on the look out for these serious weeds . Seek advice on appropriate control options.
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Our Farm Services team have been busy “slashing” extensive areas of dense weed cover (Saffron’s, Mustard Weed, Peppercress, other thistles, surplus grass and clovers etc) for several clients with excellent results, as seen here.
The term “slashing” is an old term but does not reflect the important role it can play in your pasture system and for your soils health!
We are really turning many tonnes per hectare of plant and weed matter into green shredded “Bio-Fuel” for your pastures ,soil microbes and earthworms etc. This is so critical to our drought impacted pastures and soils. We are helping to turn plant carbon back to soil carbon. Returning large amounts of nutrients in weeds and surplus pasture back to the soil environment. Adding many tonnes of plant litter to improve ground cover, which reduces rainfall impact, reduces water and soil runoff, keeps soils cooler in summer which puts more water and nutrients back into the soil, for future pasture growth. “Pasture recycling” or your better term to re-label good old “slashing” is welcome.
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These European Climate models, which have to date shown a very good reliability are indicating a VERY WET trend from now until into December for us. The attached images are just snapshots of this ongoing rain system that appears to be going to become a regular feature, over the next 6 weeks. If correct again, there will be winners and losers with such an outlook! ... See MoreSee Less

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Saffron Thistles are one of our “first responders” after drought impacts on pastures. Saffron Thistles are bigger and denser than seen in most years due to the good season and drought weakened pastures trying to recover.
Well timed slashing at the “green bud to first 10 % yellow flower appearance” is one management option on advanced infestations which will deliver excellent reduction in seed set. Slashing effectively mulches this massive volume of plant material back to the ground to rebuild carbon and organic matter, which will eventually give benefits to the pastures and soil. Slashing also allows full stock and vehicle access and more rapid pasture recovery.
Our Farm Services Division was east of Scone yesterday with our John Deere and Schulte Slasher attacking a solid crop of Saffron’s with great results.
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Silage making season is getting into full swing. With one of the best seasons in a very long time, with prolific spring crop and pasture growth, there is a great opportunity to conserve some of this surplus feed as high quality round bale silage for another time. Well made silage bales will provide good feed for at least 9-12 months. We all know these great seasonal conditions don’t last for ever.
A few tips worth sharing on making high quality round bale silage.
• Grow “the best crop or pasture forage crop “ you can , well fertilised and weed free. Use “best -practice agronomy” at every stage. Seek agronomic advice.
• Watch the weather. Although silage requires less dry down than hay and can be made earlier in the season or under less favourable weather than hay, it is best to try to find a good dry weather pattern. Need warm drying weather to wilt crop rapidly, in ideally 1-3 days to 45-55% dry matter (DM). The quicker its wilted and baled the better. Dense crops and pastures, under these current cool/mild/ humid spring weather conditions may takes 4-6 days to get it wilted to desired levels.
• Cut the crop at the late vegetative to early heading stage for best quality. Cut with a mower conditioner, or disc mower. Lay crop out wide and flat to achieve even sun drying and wilting. Rake and/or tedder as required to get airflow through crop material, which speeds crop wilting and dry down. Dense crops this year will have many heavy thick wads of grass which will be difficult to get dry enough , unless you monitor and rake over as required. Use rotary rakes not side rollbar rakes.
• Check crop/pasture dry down. Need to get crop material down to 45-55 % DM. Needs to heavily wilted with some part dried stems and leaves. Better to be on the drier side than the wetter side. Experience will guide you, in time.
There are some good hand held , spear like moisture probes , suitable for round bales , that can measure in the moisture range of both hay and silage, worth having . If need some silage moisture checking, samples can be dried in kitchen microwave or the small food dehydrators now available. Buy a unit to have in your shed for testing. Don’t use the house kitchen microwave/food dehydrator if you want to stay married. There is a careful procedure to follow during drying test. Find on internet or call. Weigh and progressively dry until weigh stops changing. 100 grams of wilted crop , dried down to no further weight change of 50 grams is 50% DM. Squeeze test of material also useful guide.
• Make high density bales. This is possibly one of the most important tasks in the process. New modern balers, like our Krone Baler, can achieve high density bales. A high density bale can be seen in the field. They have rock solid, flat ends, that sit like a table. Their sides a firm and flat and their bale edges are firm and sharp . Research shows that high density bales should be 180-250 kg DM per cu metre of volume. A typical 4ft x 4ft or 1.2 mx 1.2 m round bale has a volume of 1.36 cu m. Therefore, if you have 50% DM material , then these bales should weigh around 500-700 kg. Bale density is paramount. High density baling has many significant benefits such as fewer bales needed, less plastic wrap, less used plastic on farm , massive cost savings, less bales to pick up and store , quicker and better fermentation, higher quality silage , as well as less wastage and spoilage when feeding out. New modern balers can achieve high density bales.
• Wrap bales immediately. The sooner you wrap your bales the better their fermentation and quality. Our Krone baler, like other baler/wrapper combo balers, instantly wrap the bales as they are ejected out of the bale chamber at the rear, and while the baler is moving along making the next bale. Pretty cool operation. Research shows that immediate wrapping of the bales is highly desirable, to prevent heating, oxygen infusion into the bales and then spoilage. Wrapping soon after baling, enhances fermentation and the silage process. You must wrap your silage as soon as possible after baling. If doing with separate machines. ideally have separate wrapper unit operating while doing baling. Aim to get all bales wrapped within the same day. Don’t bale more than you can wrap in the same day. Certainly, best to have all wrapping done with 24 hours of baling.
• Wrap your bales, with 6 layers of a quality plastic wrap. Beware there are many cheap, imported low quality plastics, that can potentially contribute to the decline of your silage. Use ONLY quality plastics, from reputable suppliers, that have many years of field experience and service to the Australian farmers. Make sure you put on 6 layers of plastic. Independent Silage Research, in many locations around the world , has shown consistently, that 6 layers of plastic is best for sealing the bales as well as providing a strong enough coverage for good handling. I know there are farmers and some contractor use less layers of wrap to save money, but it often comes back to bite them, with poor bale sealing and silage fermentation as well as bale plastic wrap splitting when handling. If you intend to transport or sell silage make sure it has 6 layers. Yes the plastic is not cheap but it is what makes the bales. Remember with high density bales equals less bales needed for the same tonnage of silage which means less plastic needed, which means less plastic and handling cost/tonne of silage.
• Pick up and move newly made bales ASAP. Use a well made , soft arm/ silage bale grab to pick up and move them. Be careful when grabbing /loading/unloading not to damage bales. Seal any holes immediately with a quality silage tape. Have it on hand. Load and store bales on their ends at all times as there are far more layers across ends for protection. They also stand and hold their shape better that way too. Store bales on a clean, level pad, with no sharp stones or sticks and away from trees. Fence off or place in dedicated silage storage areas away from livestock and vermin.
• Label or tag bale batches with your own code for date and feed type. Get some tested. Silage process should be active and stable by 4-6 weeks, from baling.
Please contact us if you would like further advice or help with your round bale silage requirements.
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