Sustainable Grazing Systems Buchan Trial

Year of study:

2000-02

Lead organisation & collaborators:

Cock Livestock

Southern Farming Systems

HiFert

Gallagher

Waratah

Stephens Seeds

Wesfarmers landmark

Contact:

Malcolm J. Cock

T: 03) 5668 5166

Best available science assessment:

Overall Score: 23

Overall rating: High

Objectives

Conceptual model

Study design

Soil analysis

Production & financial

Method reporting

Data analysis

Results reporting

Publication

3

3

2

3

2

3

2

3

2

Project details

Objectives:

The trial was conducted to identify effective methods for renovating run-down pastures using pasture cropping.

Hypotheses:

Pasture production and costs can be improved by:

  • Traditional cultivation methods, being replaced by direct drilling.
  • Encouraging pasture establishment through time of year

Basis of trial:

The trial is specifically considering the effects of the following factors on pasture improvement:

  • Preparatory method
  • Timing and conditions at the time of sowing
  • Machinery use
  • Fencing method
  • Costs and pasture production

Location details

Management practices tested:

Pasture establishment methods

Trial site details:

Buchan

800 hectares (~ 550 ha grazing area)

775mm/a rainfall

70% Red clay loam with limestone rock outcrops, some river and creek flats. Undulating to hilly.

Pre-trial management:

Cattle (320) and sheep (1400) grazing

Rotational grazing

Trial management:

Fertiliser and rotational grazing continued across paddocks

Summary of key findings of trial

The low cost of direct drilling establishment far outweighs the approx 10% reduced plant establishment.

The direct drilled paddocks are out of production a much shorter period (alternative cost).

High possibility of erosion with ploughing. Little to none with direct drilling.

Less chance of soil structure and plant damage during wet seasons.

Far shorter time frame to establish improved productive pasture (alternative use of time.).

Sow into dry soils for best results (more crumbling giving better soil / seed contact). Sowing into wet soils caused “glazing” and poor germination.

Direct drill the paddock twice (“criss-cross”). Halve the seed and fertilizer rates for each run. Reduces the amount of bare ground between rows and overcrowding in the rows.

Rocks can be ridden over by the seeder with little damage provided travel speed is low and rocks not too big.

Sowing depth should be approx 2 cm.

May sowing had the best results in germination and subsequent growth. P40E&W had approx 98% germination and P35E approx 90%.

Spring sowing in pad 38’s case was too wet with approx 65% germination.

Spring sowing in P35W had very little rain after sowing with only approx. 35% germination. The following spring saw this go to approx 70%.

Best time of sowing at Amberley Park is May (before autumn rains!), for the seed mixture and methods used.

The conventional method of ploughing etc, sowing fodder crop and then ploughing etc and sowing the permanent pasture, was very costly in dollar terms and more particularly in total soil loses

 

Variations in soil C and pH not specified.

Other soil treatments not specified.

Experimental design

Treatments:

2000-2002

Roundup

Fertiliser application

Trial design/layout:

3 paddocks were selected (of similar soil type and topography). The trial layout followed:

Paddock 40:

Spring 2000: Spray out (Roundup), Disc twice, Lime, Harrow & smudge, roll, sow fodder crop (Rape & Millet) with DAP, roll.

Autumn 2001: Spray out, chisel plough (on contour) & harrow, pick up big rocks, roll seed pasture mix / fertiliser & roll if required.

Paddock 38:

Winter 2001: Spray (Roundup), Direct drill with ‘triple disc’ drill pasture mix / fertiliser.

Paddock 35:

Divide paddock into two with 3 wire electric fence (P35A & P35B).

Paddock 35B: Late Spring 2001: Spray top (Roundup), Autumn 2002: Spray out, direct drill with ‘triple disc’ drill pasture mix / fertiliser.

Paddock 35A: Late Spring 2001: Spray top (Roundup), July 2002: Spray out, direct drill with ‘triple disc’ drill pasture mix / fertiliser.

Conduct yearly application of fertiliser and soil tests.

Soil sampling method:

Soil tests undertaken annually

Plant and/or animal production measurements:

Pasture composition was measured, as follows:

Paddock

40E

40E

40W

40W

38

38

35E

35E

35W

35W

Date

2000

2003

2000

2003

2000

2003

2000

2003

00

2003

Improved grasses

10

80

10

80

10

75

10

70

10

50

Clovers

10

10

10

10

10

10

10

10

10

20

Unimproved grasses

40

0

40

0

40

5

40

5

40

0

Annual grasses

10

0

10

0

10

0

10

0

10

0

Dead pasture

10

0

10

0

10

0

10

0

10

0

Broadleaf weeds

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

2.5

5

5

Other weeds

10

0

10

0

10

0

10

2.5

10

5

Bare

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

10

5

20

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

 

Cost and value of production:

Calculations

Cost

P40 E

P40 W

P38

P35 W

P 35E

Hectares

6.25

6.25

8

9

13

Total cost ($) 

25515

7086

7087

2695

3631

5091

 

Reportage:

How results have been reported:

Summary report

 How a copy of relevant reports can be obtained:

Malcolm J Cock

farmydynamics@dcsi.net.au

Level of review of results:

N/A

Next steps

Timing of sowing and method of sowing has a large impact on pasture establishment.

I believe we will not be able to gauge the full benefits for another 4 or 5 years of data collection particularly in the area of DM production and soil nutrients, due to the different times of sowing and the big variation in the seasons. The longer the time span and volume of data the more accurate the information gained from the trial. ‘Nature’s time frame is a lot longer than a politicians’.”