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Establishment:Getting more out of pastures by sowing less

Project start date: 30 May 2005
Project end date: 15 June 2006
Publication date: 01 June 2006
Project status: Completed
Livestock species: Sheep, Goat, Lamb, Grassfed cattle, Grainfed cattle
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Farmers routinely sow many species when establishing a new permanent (> 15 years?) pasture. There is little published evidence that underpins this practice. Moreover, there is considerable anecdotal evidence that most of the species sown do not persist over the longterm. A survey was carried out in southern NSW to determine whether this practice has any merit. These complex, or "shotgun," mixes may also have a detrimental effect on pasture composition. Those species that do not persist may compete with those that do, leading to a poorer outcome if they had never been sown at all. It is in this sense that we ask whether farmers can get more by sowing less. The survey covered 61 paddocks on 34 farms in the south-west slopes of NSW. Most farmers were contacted after having their names published as having sold stock in local newspapers. Farmers were asked to nominate two paddocks one sown in the last 5 years and another in the last 5-15 years for which they had reliable records. In spring (October - early December) each paddock was visited. Firstly the farmer was interviewed to obtain management data and then the paddock was analysed. Both frequency of sown species and overall botanical composition were measured in each of the paddocks. In addition, soil was collected from the paddock for analysis of phosphate and pH.

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Project manager: Cameron Allan
Primary researcher: Charles Sturt University