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Beyond the Bale : September 2013
SELLING MORE WOOL ON-FARM 37 September 2013 BEYOND THE BALE About EverGraze Key Messages from the EverGraze Proof Sites Three “High Input” sites located at Hamilton, Wagga Wagga and Albany designed and tested farm systems based on sown perennial species. Four “Low Input” sites located at Orange, Tamworth, Chiltern and Holbrook worked with existing native perennial pastures. The key messages from these EverGraze Proof Sites are: HAMILTON The EverGraze principles of Putting the Right Plant in the Right Place for the Right Purpose with the Right Management can extend the growing season, increase profit, reduce risk, reduce salinity, maintain ground cover and make perennials persist. Achieving greater profits from perennial pastures balances stocking rate and lambing date to consume more of what is grown. The aim is greater product (wool and meat) per hectare. Lucerne reduces risk, provides options for livestock and prevents salinity. Shelter from perennial grass hedgerows significantly improves lamb survival in south west Victoria. Summer active tall fescue provides autumn feed in poorly drained soils. EverGraze systems have potential to reduce salinity risk in the Wannon catchment. WAGGA WAGGA Flexibility in livestock systems is important for risk management in variable climates. More lucerne increases production and profit. Right plant, right place and sustainable grazing management leads to persistent pastures. Flushing on green feed increases lamb marking percentages. Shrub belts planted at the break of slope do not significantly reduce recharge or waterlogging. Lucerne is a more effective option where it can be planted. Shelter from perennial grass hedgerows or shrubs can improve lamb survival, especially for lambs born as twins or triplets. However the benefits are lower in areas with low risk of chill. ALBANY Adding 25 percent perennials to farm systems on the south coast of WA will give the highest gross margins. Deep-rooted summer active perennials kikuyu, lucerne and chicory extend the growing season and reduce the need for supplementary feed in summer and autumn compared to annual based pasture systems in south coast Western Australia. Kikuyu, chicory and panic persist through dry seasons. Chicory and lucerne extend the growing season and provide quality feed in a lamb finishing system. ORANGE Landscape variability can be identified, mapped and managed. Composition of pastures with a high native perennial component is stable under managed grazing. Increasing the number of paddocks and implementing rotational grazing can result in higher stocking rates, higher per hectare production and higher gross margins, even though per head production is lower. Return on investment depends on required additional infrastructure. TAMWORTH Integrate native grass based pastures with forage oats and lucerne or provide adequate protein and energy supplements to achieve high weaning percentages for spring lambing ewes. Lucerne-grass mixtures provide high ground cover, and reduce runoff and erosion on the North-West Slopes of NSW; lucerne-tropical grass mixtures are a productive summer forage option for grazing systems on the North-West Slopes of NSW. Conservation of Box-Gum Grassy Woodlands on the North-West Slopes of NSW is best achieved through on-farm management of high quality remnant patches. CHILTERN AND HOLBROOK Integrating the management of native and improved pastures into one system to support a ewe/lamb enterprise is more profitable than running separate flocks of wethers on native country and ewes on improved country. Native pastures can support a store lamb production system. In native pastures with a high density of perennial species and low clover composition, rotational grazing and fertiliser have limited influence on pasture production and composition if critical destocking benchmarks for ground cover (70%) and herbage mass (800 kg DM/ ha) are in place. Productivity of native pastures and the response to increased fertility is, in part, reliant on the presence of legumes and annual grasses. The native grass Microlaena can spread by stolons (above-ground stems), rhizomes (below ground stems), as well as tillers arising from corms located beneath the soil surface. The rhizomes and corms may protect the plant from grazing. The stolons can facilitate rapid spread under favorable conditions. Seed production, viability and germination is not competitive with annual species, so it’s important that existing plants are protected to maintain composition. More than 60 EverGraze on-farm demonstration sites have complemented the EverGraze Proof Sites. These demonstration sites have played an integral role in supporting groups of producers to try new grazing practices and perennial systems to increase profitability and improve environmental outcomes. Productivity benefits have included reduced input costs, increased pasture growth, increased stocking rates and improved soil fertility. Environmental benefits have included increases in ground cover, reduced weeds, increased perenniality of native pastures, persistence of sown perennials and reduced soil loss. For further information look under the Research and Demonstration and Case Studies tabs at www.evergraze.com.au EverGraze is a Future Farm Industries CRC research and delivery partnership between Australian Wool Innovation, Meat and Livestock Australia, the Department of Environment and Primary Industries Victoria, Department of Primary Industries NSW, Department of Agriculture and Food WA and Charles Sturt University. The Federal Government Caring for Our Country project and local NRM and CMA boards also provided input into EverGraze Supporting Sites.