Feed gap easily filled with new pasture method

Countryman

An innovative pasture establishment method has delivered Brookton farmers Colin and Anna Butcher an inexpensive, hassle-free and highly productive way to fill the autumn feed gap and generate free nitrogen for subsequent wheat crops.

The new pasture establishment technique for medium to high rainfall areas will be on display at a field day at the Butcher's property on September 23.

It has been developed by the Department of Agriculture and Food with current trials part of the Focus Paddock project, jointly funded with Grains Research and Development Corporation. The project is also supported by the joint GRDC and MLA-funded Grain and Graze project.

Department Research Officer Angelo Loi said the main advantage of the new approach was that it could be done in conjunction with normal cropping operations using unprocessed pasture seed either sown with a crop (twin sowing) or direct drilled into crop stubble in early summer (summer sowing).

Because it is unprocessed, the serradella seed remains dormant until it is softened during the summer months ready for germination at the start of the next season.

"The beauty of the new method is that the pasture seed is ready and waiting in the soil when the first rains fall, which means it gets away early and is highly competitive with weeds," Dr Loi said.

Without the need for de-hulling and scarifying the new method is cost and time effective, costing about $10-15 per hectare when farm-grown seed is used compared to $50-100 per hectare to buy in seed.

The new method has delivered the Butchers more feed than they can handle in 2013 and they will consider brown manuring the excess to generate nitrogen carryover for the 2014 wheat or hay crop.

Dr Loi said the field day will demonstrate how growers can bulk-up a significant amount of pasture seed from a relatively small area.

"Our work is showing that just one hectare of serradella pasture can generate enough seed for a 20 to 40 hectare sowing," he said.

Also on display will be information on pasture inoculants and a highly visual demonstration of the residual impact of in-crop cereal herbicides on pasture legume establishment.

Hayley Norman from CSIRO will showcase a range of legume species showing potential to reduce methane emissions from sheep.

A light lunch will be available at the field day, which will start at 9.30am at Colin and Anna Butcher's property on Corberding Rd, Brookton.

Further information on the field day is available from Brad Nutt on 0429 887 237 or by email: bradley.nutt@agric.wa.gov.au.

Please RSVP (for catering purposes) to Jessica Wallace on 9081 3111 or by email jessica.wallace@agric.wa.gov.au.

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