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Beyond the Bale : June August 2009
8 PASTUReS Twin sowing: a new roTaTion road TesTed Twin sowing of annual hard-seeded pasture legume varieties could offer woolgrowers more flexibility to swing between livestock and cropping operations, while saving on sowing costs and fixing nitrogen By Kellie Penfold A twin sowing concept in which a hardseeded annual legume is sown with the last grain crop in a rotation is being trialled by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA). The objective is to take advantage of the hard-seeded aspects of new annual legume varieties, which keep them dormant while the crop is growing; they don’t germinate until the following break, when they emerge as a ready-to-go pasture. While take-up of new hard-seeded annual pasture legume varieties in crop-pasture rotations has been high in WA, a recent survey found that less than five per cent of growers in central and southern NSW used them. Many of the varieties were bred or introduced under the National Annual Pasture Legume Improvement Program (NAPLIP), part funded by AWI and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) to develop more drought-tolerant pastures. Research agronomist Belinda Hackney, from the NSW DPI’s pasture genetics and improvement unit, says that twin sowing experiments were established at two NSW sites in autumn 2008 – Junee Reefs, in southern NSW, and Peak Hill, in central NSW. Using Pastures Australia research funding, part of which is provided by AWI, the system is now being evaluated for its robustness under NSW conditions. The basics of the system involve sowing wheat at the normal seeding rate with June – August 2009 Beyond the BAle Hope for new varieties to restore profitable pastures After successive failed crops, southern NSW woolgrowers Philip and Katherine Davies are looking to new pasture management to help lift their profitability. As an indication of just how much farming circumstances have changed, the Davies say the systems that were suitable for their 900-hectare property ‘Yerna’, north of Temora, when they bought it just a decade ago, just don’t apply anymore. Traditional pasture varieties such as subclovers, and to a lesser extent lucerne, simply do not perform in a climate now handing out 150 millimetres less annual rainfall than 10 years ago (now down to about 350mm) and often missing the important late winter/spring rain altogether. Philip feels his country has become a marginal cropping proposition (one successful crop in seven years, he suggests) and every year is moving more and more to a pastoral sheep environment. Originally from Goulburn, Philip, with his parents Jim and Lorraine, moved to the area with the intention of being able to diversify their interest in sheep with cropping. The enterprise is based on 600ha of winter crop in a rotation that has veered from the traditional wheat, canola and occasional lupins, to wheat-on-wheat in an effort to have the best chance of returning a profit. A mob of 1500 Merino ewes is used for prime lamb and wool production. And these sheep have become critical to the business. The last profitable wheat Woolgrower Philip Davies is looking for pasture varieties that will help him run a flexible farming operation. PHoTo: keLLIe PeNFoLD
April May 2009
September November 2009