Grazing prospects for native grasses in Gippsland

Turner-Simon-Rowena

Simon and Rowena Turner, of Reedy Flat.

A collaborative project is generating information that will help graziers optimise the productive capability of native pastures and improve groundcover.

After 18 months of monitoring two demonstration sites in the Tambo Valley, the project is producing some promising results.

Agriculture Victoria’s Dr Meredith Mitchell is leading the investigation and said native pasture species of Microlena, Wallaby grass and Red Grass were responding well to increased soil fertility,
with improved production and digestibility.

Connors Hill trial site landowner, Ken Skews (Tambo Valley) said he was interested in seeing how his country responds to this management strategy and to see if there was any change in pasture
composition over the trial period.

Reedy Flat site landowners, Simon and Rowena Turner said they welcomed the trial on their property.

“Due to increased costs of production and poor commodity returns over the past 30 years, farmers in the area have seen a decline in their soil fertility and livestock production,” Mr Turner said.

“With recent improvements in commodity returns there is currently an opportunity to address the phosphorus deficit and to improve grazing management. We have modified our management as a
result of data and information generated by this program.”

Dr Mitchell said strategic grazing was also having a positive effect on dry matter production.

Pasture composition measurements have been collected, together with regular soil and feed tests to monitor changes over time.

Rainfall and pasture growth has also been measured regularly, and dry conditions during the trial have impacted on the sites performance. However, it was positive how quickly the pastures
returned to good production following rains in Spring.

Ground cover has remained high at the Connors Hill site, with more than 80 per cent of the site covered, with Wallaby grass and Red grass the most common species. While the Reedy Flat site has
recorded exceptional ground cover, at about 95 percent with Microlena, Red Grass and Wallaby grass the most common species.

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