Twin-sowing of pasture and cereal crops can boost profits by up to 24 per cent in mixed farming enterprises, according to new research supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
Fiona Young, a research student at the University of Western Australia (UWA), has examined the merits of twin-sowing.
Ms Young’s supervisor, Professor Ross Kingwell, Department of Agriculture and Food and University of Western Australia (DAFWA) says the research reveals twin-sowing boosts the profits of mixed broadacre farming systems in the central wheatbelt of WA.
“Twin-sowing lowers the costs of establishing legume pastures without interfering with crop sowing,” Prof Kingwell says.
“It requires minimal investment to implement and provides an opportunity to improve pasture production and quality using low cost seed produced on-farm.
“Twin-sowing was found to increase farm productivity which increased farm profitability.”
The study employed the whole-farm bioeconomic model, MIDAS, to assess the profitability and role of twin-sowing in different farming systems in WA’s central wheatbelt.
A comparison of different farming scenarios with and without twin-sowing was undertaken in conjunction with a wide-ranging sensitivity analysis.
Prof Kingwell said the main findings were that twin-sowing boosts whole-farm profit while decreasing the area of farm optimally devoted to pasture.
“For a standard farm, the area of pasture decreases by 13pc, while profit increases significantly by 24pc,” he said.
“Twin-sowing increases a farm’s capacity to carry sheep by up to 24pc and reduces nitrogen fertiliser requirements for crops following a year of pasture.
“As twin-sowing has been developed mainly for pasture establishment on sandy soils, farms with predominantly sandy soils experience the largest increase in farm profits or 41pc at current high prices for sheepmeat and wool.”
He says sensitivity analysis suggests if current wool prices, pasture growth and sheepmeat prices decline, twin-sowing remains highly profitable in comparison to those farming systems without this innovation.
“The combination of desirable characteristics displayed by twin-sowing highlight its potential for further trial and adoption across an array of different farming systems.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Twin-sowing of pasture and cereal crops can boost profits.
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