Albany Proof Site

Key Results

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Persistent perennials

  • Kikuyu, chicory and panic persisted through three consecutive dry seasons at Wellstead while summer active tall fescue didn’t survive the first drought (requires >600 mm annual rainfall).  Lucerne didn’t persist in the shallow sand gravel/clay.
  • Kikuyu pastures maintained more than 50% ground cover through summer and autumn, even in the driest years.
  • Winter active tall fescue showed promise for regions receiving more than 450mm rainfall (results coming soon).
  • Rotational grazing was critical to achieving good persistence in all perennials except kikuyu, which can be continuously grazed for extended periods.

Productive perennials

  • Perennial swards at Wellstead had lower winter production but similar overall annual production compared to annuals at around 6 tonnes of dry matter per hectare. Perennials extended the growing season, producing over 10kg DM/ha/day in November and December.
  • Annual ryegrass and forage oats sown in autumn can increase winter feed in summer-active perennial stands (results coming soon).

Quality perennials

  • Kikuyu recorded the highest dry matter production at the EverGraze Proof Site in Wellstead during summer but feed quality was only good enough for maintenance of ewes or lambs.
  • Lucerne and chicory provided quality out of season green feed with summer/autumn dry matter digestibility of around 70% for lucerne and 80% for chicory, and achieving lamb growth rates of 149-336 g/hd/day. 

Higher margins from perennials

  • Modelling indicated a $100 per hectare ($229 vs $329/ha) or 44% increase in gross margin at Wellstead (467 mm rainfall) when 25% of the grazing system was based on perennials compared to an annual only system.  The highest margins were achieved with a May lambing, holding the ewes on kikuyu in autumn and lifting stocking rates from 6.5 to 7.8 ewes per ha.
  • Modelling for a lower rainfall environment (367 mm) indicated a higher proportion of perennials (75%) in the pasture base was the most profitable. May lambing and 30 days locked on kikuyu increased gross margins by 66% compared to an annual only system.
  • At higher rainfall (656 mm), smaller increases in gross margin (5-10%) could be achieved by incorporating 25% perennials into the system.
  • The main driver of increased gross margins from incorporating summer active perennials into farm systems was reduced supplementary feeding costs, especially in dry autumns and springs.
  • Improved management of ewe condition and lambing on perennial systems consistently achieved 120% weaning from Merinos at Wellstead compared to the WA state average of 80%. Higher weaning percentages is an important driver of profit.
  • Beef cattle enterprises are uncommon in the Proof Site region, a fact that is supported by the modelling findings which suggest cattle are for the most part unprofitable  (results coming soon). All of the sheep enterprises simulated were economically viable.

Publications

Webpage

WA Modelling report 2014

EverGraze – Simulating beef production in Manjimup WA using GrassGro by Paul Sanford, DAFWA, Albany WA This modelling work is part of the WA research …

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Paul Sanford; 2014; EverGraze, Future Farm Industries CRC

Report

EverGraze Impact Report – June 2011 to June 2012

The purpose of this report is to summarise the Impact of the EverGraze project based on evaluation data collected from activities between July 2011 an…

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EverGraze; 2012; EverGraze

Webpage

EverGraze Exchange – Livestock Systems (Online)

This Online EverGraze Exchange provides information on the key factors driving livestock productivity and enterprise profitability. A process is inclu…

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Kate Sargeant, Geoff Saul, Ralph Behrendt, Michael Friend, Paul Sanford; 2013; EverGraze, Future Farm Industries CRC

Report

EverGraze Tactical Management Regimes: GrassGro Simulations Albany

Preliminary EverGraze modelling suggested that an opportunity existed in the south-west WA to substantially increase profit while reducing soil degrad…

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Sanford P; 2012; EverGraze

Conference paper

Are new farming systems based on perennial pastures in south west Australia more profitable?

Farming systems based on annual pastures use insufficient water which leads to salinisation. Summer active perennial species significantly reduce this…

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Sanford, P. and Young, J; 2005; Proc.International Grasslands Conference p 847.

Journal article

The role of livestock in the management of dryland salinity

Management of dryland salinity in Australia will require changes in the design and utilisation of plant systems in agriculture. These changes will pro…

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Masters D, Edwards N, Sillence M, Avery A, Revell D, Friend M, Sanford P, Saul G, Beverly C, Young J; 2006; Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 46, 733-741.

Journal article

Evaluating seasonal risk and the potential for windspeed reductions to reduce chill index at six locations using GrassGro

The death of newborn lambs is a major factor influencing the reproductive efficiency of sheep enterprises. Adverse weather conditions (wind, precipita…

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Broster JC, Robertson SM, RL Dehaan, BJ King, Friend MA; 2012; Animal Production Science 52, 921-928

Conference paper

Grazing management principles – how to get the most out of your pastures through grazing management

Getting the most of out of pastures with grazing management involves decisions which influence the effective utilisation of the available feed within …

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Sargeant K; 2012; Grassland Society of Southern Australia 2012 pp. 11

Conference paper

EverGraze 3: Using perennials to boost ovulation rates in Merino ewes

This paper reports preliminary results from experiments investigating the use of summer-active perennial pastures to increase ovulation rates in ewes,…

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Robertson SM, King BJ, Friend MA, Sanford P; 2007; Proceedings of the 48th Annual Conference of the Grassland Society of Southern Australia p.102

Conference paper

EverGraze – Prime lamb production on perennial based grasslands in south west Australia

Traditional livestock production in south west Australia is based on annual plants that have been shown to result in land degradation through salinisa…

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Sanford P, Ryan J, Jakobsson P, Dobbe E, McCready E; 2008; XXI International Grasslands Congress, HohHot, China


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