North East Victoria and Murray region of New South Wales
Research in the North East and Murray catchments will investigate management strategies that can be adopted on-farm that will improve the contribution of native perennial grasses to pastures. The research will develop sheep production systems based on native pastures that are more profitable and overcome current environmental challenges.
Native pastures in northern Victoria and southern NSW are usually dominated by annual species. They occupy a considerable proportion of the landscape, but are generally of low productivity, used in wool production and only provide low returns per hectare.
Productivity of native pastures can be increased by using fertiliser but this nearly always comes at the expense of the native perennial grasses. However using a combination of fertiliser inputs and rotational grazing shold provide the increased productivity while maintaining native perennials. Much of the hilly landscape is not suitable to introduced perennials, so keeping and improving the current native perennial pasture base is essential.
EverGraze research is testing inexpensive management strategies that will improve the contribution of native grasses to profitability and NRM outcomes.
There are two experimental sites, one at Chiltern in Northern Victoria and one near Holbrook in Southern New South Wales.
The Chiltern site has good composition of native grasses (Wallaby grass, Weeping grass) within the pasture. Four treatments are being compared;
Low fertility set stocked – current practise, low productivity
Higher fertility set stocked – higher productivity but may lead to a reduction in native perennials
Higher fertility rotationally grazed – simple 4 paddock rotation all year round
Higher fertility rotationally grazed – 4 paddock rotations except paddocks are set stocked from lambing to weaning.
The Holbrook site is looking at increasing the proportion of native perennials (wallaby grass, weeping grass, red Grass) in a native pasture through rotational grazing and integration with phalaris pastures. Three treatments being compared are;
Separate flocks, separate pastures – Wethers set-stocked on native pastures, ewes on phalaris pastures.
Integrated grazing system – Ewes only, rotationally grazed around the phalaris and native pastures as required.
Integrated, leader follower grazing system – Ewes and wethers, graze both pasture types in a leader follower system to make best use of different quality forages.
At both sites, experiments will investigate the effects of grazing management and fertiliser inputs on pasture and animal productivity and NRM outcomes such as ground cover, perenniality and groundwater recharge.
As with the other Proof Sites, these experiments are using high performance merino ewes mated to terminal sires for prime lamb production..
Site Leader NE Victoria is Meredith Mitchell, DPI Victoria
T (02) 6030 4579
Site Leader Southern NSW is Jim Virgona, Charles Sturt University
T (02) 6933 4174,
E : email@example.com
or contact us online click here
More information from the North East Victoria and Murray region of NSW brochure
More information on native perennial grasses can be downloaded in the brochure: Native pastures for sustainable agriculture (2.2mb)