Gavin Flowers works on Oakleigh farm in the KwaZulu-Natal midland in South Africa, close to Mooiriver. The farm is kept busy producing between 3500 – 5000 mini round bales (approx 2 square bales per mini round) a season. Last season Gavin was able to use fieldmargin to track field notes, harvesting dates, and record yields of bales in different camps.
“fieldmargin has been great for us as 90ha of land is split up and each has its own camps and produces different yields. Now we have a history of each camp. We also record; tractor speeds, diesel consumption, and useful observations such as weeds to compare and adjust. This data will assist us to try and produce optimum quality and quantity per hectare”
Gavin Flowers Oakleigh farm.
Eragrostis curvula is the most common hay pasture in KwaZulu-Natal. It is a long-lived, tufted perennial species indigenous to South Africa. Under favorable weather conditions, it can be cut, dried, and baled on the same day. The nutritive value of Eragrostis hay varies considerably, from good to poor quality, depending upon fertilization, climate, rainfall, and stage of growth when harvesting (Source).
“We start production about October depending on any good spring rains. With the first harvest we have so much cutting and baling to do. Last year the 1st cut had a very late start here for us, so that made timings for the second cut more difficult with the weather. Harvest can be really challenging when temperatures are above 30ºC here with storms predicted, it can be flat out if when have a small window of suitable time.”
Gavin has been able to record the yields of his hay using the mobile fieldmargin app while he is out on the farm.
“I need to make notes from every land I cut hay on how many bales each time I cut. The cuts happen 3 times a year on each land so the data adds up. I used to make a manual note in a diary and transfer to a hard copy sheet in a file. fieldmargin has now made my mobile become my file ”
After making this record he is able to look back on the yield from each cut at the end of the season on the web platform. He can use this data to compare yield across fields and between cuts. Read how here. Data below is an example of how this can work not real farm data.
Like all aspects of farming how the season goes is dramatically impacted by the weather.
“The sad thing about last season was the first cut had low yields, we then added fertilizer but before we could get the 2nd cut in the weather changed drastically, 3 days sun followed by 4 days wet so soils started cooling down grass stopped growing.
“The 2nd cut yields were above the 1st cut but they were a lower level than they should have been considering the fertlizer application. For the third cut the weather said only 1mm was due so I allowed for that but then we got a massive storm got 15- 20 mm. So then we get out to make hay, so its tedder and loose baling time. I then had to try to look at ways of baling wet hay and preventing damp so they produce does not become mouldy and not suitable for the stables.”
“During the winter there is less action, just vasbyt (chill out!) till spring. During this time we clean up on some lands ready for spring. We do some land prep to get some camps ready to replant in late spring. We also add some Firebreaks between farms.“
Early in the season Gavin uses a drone to assess how even the growth is. Gavin flies the drone himself, following a flight path that provides even coverage of the paddock. These can then be uploaded to fieldmargin so all maps are kept in the same place.
“These are all own opinions, I am a small time farmer remember but I can use the data for my own personal records as to how we have made hay and results.”
Want to try this out on your farm? Download the app today.
Are you interested to learn how to record the dates of cuts and how to harvest number of bales? We have written some step-by-step instruction specifically for this use here.
The yield reporter tool is part of our essentials subscription. This is costs 600 ZA Rand or £35 a year to purchase. Find more details on our pricing here. If you have any questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org