South East farmers hoping for moisture ahead of feed seeding

Katie Jackson
By Katie Jackson
April 20 2022 - 8:35pm
DRY: Havenhill Contracting's Rob Baker, Aurora Dairies' Sarel Potgieter and Elders Mount Gambier's Aimee Kilpatrick have resorted to dry sowing feed in hope the South East receives substantial rain in the coming weeks.

A DRY start to the year has left South East farmers scratching their heads ahead of seeding, with some dairyfarmers going as far as dry sowing feed and looking to the sky for a miracle.

Soil moisture across much of the state has declined, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, and with no rain forecast in the coming week, farmers are banking on a late change.



Elders Mount Gambier agronomist Aimee Kilpatrick said soil in the South East was so dry, even weeds were stressed.

"They're so stressed due to the lack of rain that they aren't drawing anything in," she said.

"Some areas around here got 40 millimetres during a recent thunderstorm but most got eight or 10mm.

"The ones who did get that extra rain have a better kill rate but the others where weeds germinated but didn't get follow up rain are now struggling to knock them down.

"We're having to go in with a couple of herbicide applications."

Ms Kilpatrick says as winter inches closer, concerns are swirling whether soil temperatures will drop too low to get the dry-sown feed off the ground in time, even with good rainfall.

"A lot will have to dip into a lot of their silage stacks if we don't get a change soon which is not something they would really be reaching for at this time of year," she said.

"They didn't really predict for this lack of feed they might be facing this season - that on top of input costs at the moment is a real struggle.

"We have guys going in at half the recommended sowing rate just based on the price of synthetic fertilisers at the moment and not knowing what rain is going to come.

"They're being a lot more cautious and putting their inputs where they know they're gonna get the benefits from and that's under irrigation pastures."

Ms Kilpatrick said the region would need at least 10mm of rain in one hit - plus a good follow-up weather event - to ensure feed got up, but the forecast for the coming weeks showed this was unlikely.

A BoM spokesperson said the South East, Murraylands and Fleurieu regions had an equal chance of above of below median rainfall for May to July, with some eastern parts of the Murraylands likely to have above median rainfall.

Temperatures during these months are also expected to be warmer than usual.


Above median May to July rainfall is likely for the pastoral areas, the Flinders Ranges, the eastern parts of the Mid North and the Riverland.

Chances of above or below median rainfall for May to July is also roughly equal for the Yorke Peninsula, the rest of the Mid North and the Eyre Peninsula.



Mount Schank dairyfarer Sarel Potgieter said they were rushed into sowing their feed, despite the dry weather, because they were running out of time before calving.

"Rain must come, and if (seed) is not in the ground when it does, then we can't grow anything," he said.

"Input costs are high and we can survive for a little bit without feed coming up, but we need rain soon and good follow-up rain to keep it going.

"We'll be keeping our eye on the sky and hoping something falls soon."

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Katie Jackson

Katie Jackson


Journalist at Stock Journal. Born into a journo family in the state's South East, Katie made the move to the big smoke to join the team in early 2022 after seven years spent at various mastheads in the regions.

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