Balancing act – feed potential versus risk

02 October 2015

It’s decision time for the Roberts family, of ‘Callistemon’, 100km west of Springsure Queensland.

They need to decide what to do to make the most of their limited rainfall so far to maximise their feed production for turning off EU and Pasturefed Cattle Assurance System (PCAS) steers (at 300kg dressed) at their fattening block ‘Fairways’, 30km west of Emerald.

One option is to sow a high feed value legume that will add nitrogen to the soil, such as leucaena, dolichos lablab or desmanthus, which will help their steers to grade MSA.

Another option is to do nothing and rely on their substantial buffel pastures which deliver the Roberts weight gains of 0.6kg/head/day.

“It’s a difficult decision,” Trudy said.

“We hosted a leucaena field day at ‘Fairways’ recently where Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries pastures agronomist Stuart Buck discussed both the establishment and the benefits of leucaena.

“It was really interesting, very informative and the 38 people who came really enjoyed it.”

Trudy said Stuart pointed out the importance of selecting the right variety for your region and property situation.

In this case he recommended Cunningham as the leucaena variety most suited to ‘Fairways’, however they were concerned about their lack of soil moisture.

So far, they have only received about 150-175mm of their average annual 650mm rainfall.

“Stuart also advised that areas west of Emerald are getting marginal for leucaena in terms of rainfall and that plantings are generally more successful further east,” Trudy said.

“We would feel a lot more comfortable about planting it if there were more producers trying it in our area and we could learn from their experiences.”

The Roberts would also need to use a sowing contractor and to apply fertiliser to improve the success of establishment.

“At this stage we think we’ll minimise our risk and plant lablab,” Trudy said.

“We can sow it ourselves and we’re ready to go as soon as it rains.”

Contact Trudy and Bruce T: 07 4984 4912 E: callistemon10@bigpond.com

Read more information about growing leucaena 

Contact the Leucaena Network: admin@leucaena.net

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