Alternative perennials find a role

15 Apr, 2016 04:00 AM
Comments
1
 
Plantain established well from autumn sowing and has been very readily grazed off by our cows.

The need for more even pasture supply and improved persistence has led one Fleurieu, South Australia, dairy family to trial and achieve early successes with new soft-leaved tall fescues and plantain pastures.

The Connor family runs dairy farms at Nangkita and Mount Jagged and they are focusing on higher productivity from perennial pastures to reduce their costs of milk production.

Jake Connor said many of their ryegrass pastures had thinned out due to black beetle damage, and irrigated ryegrass did not grow well for them during hot summer months.

“We decided to plant a couple of the newer softer-leaved tall fescue varieties in several of our irrigation paddocks,” Jake said.

“Hummer and a new unnamed tall fescue both established very slowly from last autumn’s sowings, but have progressively become stronger over the first twelve months.”

The new fescue pastures grew 50 to 60 kilograms dry matter (DM) per hectare per day over the hot summer months, when the ryegrass pastures were lucky to grow at half that rate.

At the same time, Jake has been impressed with the palatability of the new pastures for his herd.

“We have seen white clover growing well with the fescue and our cows have willingly grazed these pastures down really well,” he said.

Jake realises that the pastures are still relatively young, but has been satisfied so far and looks forward to keeping interested farmers updated on these new fescue varieties.

The Connors have also been keen to try alternative forages on their dryland paddocks and sowed plantain, a tap-rooted perennial forage, in two of their Nangkita paddocks last autumn.

With its tap-rooted growth habit, Jake thought plantain should be more resistant to black beetle attack and hopefully more drought tolerant and persistent through dry summers. He had also heard how plantain is highly regarded for strong winter growth in New Zealand and Europe.

“It’s early days, but so far we can report plantain established well from autumn sowing and has been very readily grazed off by our cows,” Jake said.

It grew well through winter and provided up to seven tonnes dry matter per hectare in the first year.

“Our new perennial pasture sowings are usually quite slow in the first year, so we are excited about such good early growth from the plantain. We’re really keen to see how well it does in year two,” he said.

DairySA
Date: Newest first | Oldest first

READER COMMENTS

Myles
15/04/2016 1:13:53 PM, on Australian Dairyfarmer

You've got the rain, why not a dedicated plot of sweet sorghum?

POST A COMMENT


Screen name *
Email address *
Remember me?
Comment *
 
Sorghum and maize can each play a part in providing home-grown feed on dairy farms but farmers need to carefully prepare and follow a plan to obtain the most value from these crops.16 Oct 17 Sorghum and maize can each play a part in providing home-grown feed on dairy farms but farmers need to carefully...
Several new additions to the baled silage marketplace will reduce bale spoilage and the number of decomposing bales that can leak effluent into the soil and water tables close to the ground surface. 
27 Sep 17 Several new additions to the baled silage marketplace will reduce bale spoilage and the number of decomposing bales...
light grey arrow
Aus lucerne export to China. how about Aust. dairy farmers? Them don't need any lucerne.Do they?
light grey arrow
The Seralini study showing long term ingestion of GE corn is dangerous to health. This study was
light grey arrow
If GM is so wonderful why is the US in the grip of crop destruction caused by GM Dicamba
Dairyfarmers are reminded that chemicals used on farms, including those used to clean and sanitise the plant and milk vats, must be registered with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).
20 Sep 17 Dairyfarmers are reminded that chemicals used on farms, including those used to clean and sanitise the plant and...
When Victorian dairyfarmer Lauren Finger's father said he had an idea, little did she know how much of an impact his invention would improve her on-farm productivity and safety.
05 Sep 17 When Victorian dairyfarmer Lauren Finger's father said he had an idea, little did she know how much of an impact his...
Australian farm chemical manufacturer Nufarm has repaired its balance sheet and is now hunting for acquisition opportunities.25 Sep 16 Australian farm chemical manufacturer Nufarm has repaired its balance sheet and is now hunting for acquisition...
Monopoly market may confront cropping sector under mega-merger proposal.22 Sep 16 Monopoly market may confront cropping sector under mega-merger proposal.