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Beyond the Bale : March 2013
36 36 36 ON-FARM During 2010, Barrie and Anne Noye, Creightons Creek, Victoria, established an EverGraze Supporting Site to investigate options to increase pasture productivity in the most cost-effective way possible. “ Following a number of drought years we were running a 500-head self- replacing Merino flock on our property in the foothills of the Strathbogie Ranges, near Euroa in north-east Victoria,” Mr Noye said. “ The property ranges from relatively flat, arable country on the valley floor to steep, non-arable lower foothill country at the northern end of the block. “ Pasture weeds were becoming an increasing problem and reducing the productivity of our pastures and stock. Also, our existing system was based on set stocking and I was keen to try rotational grazing, knowing it would be a better way to manage our livestock and feedbase. Increasing pasture productivity FAST FACTS l Barrie and Anne Noye who run a self-replacing Merino flock at Creightons Creek, Victoria, established an EverGraze Supporting Site to investigate options to increase pasture productivity. l Improving degraded pastures with fertiliser, weed control and grazing proved to be cost effective and productive. l Fencing to land class and reducing paddock size increased the ease and benefits of rotational grazing. l Rotational grazing increased ground cover and perennial plant frequency in native pastures. “ Establishing an EverGraze Supporting Site helped us kill two birds with the one stone and allowed us to compare the costs and benefits of a range of options. It got me thinking about what I might be able to do better – it really stirred up my grey matter.” The site was set up on the property in association with the Creightons Creek BESTWOOL/BESTLAMB group. DIVIDE AND CONQUER The first step was to subdivide an existing 16ha paddock into three smaller paddocks according to land class. This left a paddock of old, established phalaris pasture, one of native perennial pasture, and one which would be sown to Landmaster phalaris across the arable portion. The next step was to determine any limitations in soil fertility of the three paddocks. The established phalaris paddock was 3ha of gently rising country sown to phalaris about 30 years ago. At the start of the investigation, phalaris covered most of it but there were also some native Barrie Noye (right) and fellow Creightons Creek BESTWOOL/BESTLAMB group member Geoff Broughton inspect the fertilised phalaris paddock (foreground) and unimproved native pasture (behind) – see below. March 2013 BEYOND THE BALE The fertilised phalaris paddock (right), fenced and managed separately from the unimproved native pasture (left) in mid-September 2012, just 12 months after the new grazing, fertiliser and weed management strategy began.