Grains Research and Development

Pastures Australia

Pastures Australia Logo


About Us
Why are we changing the way we invest in pastures?

Pastures Australia Investment Strategy
Pastures Australia Projects


Useful Links
Key Contacts


About Us

Pastures Australia is an Unincorporated Joint Venture for investment in the genetic improvement, management and adoption of pasture plants across Australia. The partners are Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC), Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), Dairy Australia (DA), and the Rural Research & Development Corporation (RIRDC).

These five Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) are responsible for research, development and extension to benefit the broadacre farming industries for grains, sheep, wool, beef and dairy. 

Pastures Australia will:
• manage all new investments in genetic improvement of perennial and annual legumes, grasses, herbs and forbs [not crops]
• develop new agronomy and management knowledge for pasture species
• communicate and extend new knowledge to farmers.

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Why are we changing the way we invest in pastures?
Historically there have been a number of barriers to capturing the full value from R&D investments in pastures. These include:
• RDCs generally have made separate investments in pasture breeding research with limited coordination to deliver effective outcomes on farm.
• Planning for pasture breeding has often been undertaken on an ad hoc basis without formalised strategies, budgets and auditing of return on investment.
• The needs of farming systems are often poorly described
• Investment in breeding and selection for new pasture varieties is often undertaken without a quantitative and strategic analysis of market needs.
• Industry participants including farmers, researchers, seed suppliers and distributors often operate in isolation limiting cohesion in the supply chain.
• There is no objective system in Australia for genetic evaluation of pastures which limits industry participants in making informed selection decisions on species and cultivars.

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By 2015 farmers will be able to select with confidence pasture plants that are tested in their environment. They will be able to establish and manage pastures that deliver on their enterprise objectives while managing the risks.

Pastures Australia will work with farmers, advisers, researchers and agribusiness to deliver the industry vision.

Return on investment will be maximised by:
• sound market research;
• investing in new plant breeding where market failure exists and demand can be demonstrated;
• investing in processes and technologies that have benefit through the value chain;
• increasing our knowledge and analysis of variety performance and adaptation;
• driving adoption of pasture technology through sound management packages; and
• increasing information flow and collaboration between sections of the supply chain.

By 2015 Pastures Australia will strive to deliver a minimum 5:1 return on investment from total funds invested by Pastures Australia and its partners.

For every $1 invested in pasture research, development and extension, Pastures Australia will expect a return to
industry, through increased livestock production, crop yields and whole farm profitability as well as improvements in natural resource indicators and social benefits.

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Pastures Australia Investment Strategy
Pastures Australia Investment Strategy 2005 -2015 (87.4 KB, PDF)

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Pastures Australia Projects

(1) Scoping Pasture Genetic Evaluation Approaches and Tools for Species and Cultivars. The key issue for this project is the development of an objective system that will facilitate valid comparisons of species and cultivars from a variety of sources. The primary outcome required from this study will be agreement on the overall approach and on the underlying method and tools for improved genetic evaluation, including modifications to existing applications where necessary.

(2) National Variety Testing Scheme Scoping Study. The aim of the NVT scheme is to provide transparent information to producers and advisors as a basis for making informed decisions and reduce the misleading and often biased information currently in the marketplace. This initiative will assess the performance of past and existing NVT schemes; develop a prototype low cost scheme and engage in industry consultation to evaluate potential for its adoption.

(3) Development of an interactive PA home page including ‘Pasture Picker’ – a decision tool for farmers and advisors. This project is designed to deliver a pasture focussed, web based, ‘one stop shop’ that will provide interface to pasture literature, reports and management tools for producers, advisors and the research community.

(4) Commercialisation of the first subterranean clovers with cotyledon resistance to redlegged earth mites is the completion of a NAPLIP breeding project undertaken at DAFWA. The project will complete the selection and provision of Breeder’s seed of at least two new cultivars, one mid season and one late flowering, for commercial release. This project will also be concluded in time for the commencement of the 2008 winter season.

(5) Breeding New Pod Holding Medics is also the finalisation of a breeding project being undertaken by Pristine Forage Technologies in South Australia. The project will complete the breeding and selection of two new barrel medics that incorporate a pod holding trait. This trait is a patented genetic characteristic that stops the medic seed pod from dropping off the plant on maturity thus enhancing harvest yield. Two varieties, one early and one mid-season flowering, will be selected for provision of Breeder’s seed and information to assist in adoption will be prepared for farmers and advisors.

(6) Working with growers to overcome constraints to adoption of new annual pasture legumes in the medium and low rainfall mixed farming zones of southern Australia. The project will have three areas of focus including the development of management systems for biserrula; lowering costs of pasture establishment by undersowing hard seeded serradella cultivars; and new approaches to herbicide resistant weed management in a pasture phase by utilising
delayed germination characteristics of new legume species.

(7) Agronomy and management of new annual legumes. This project will involve development of management packages to increase adoption of new annual legumes and increase the supply of low cost nitrogen crops in low, medium and high rainfall zones of New South Wales. Whilst activities will be focussed on southern NSW the potential benefits have a much broader application across south eastern Australia. The project will evaluate new legume species including
French serradella, biserrula, arrowleaf clover and rose clover. It is intended to be very farmer interactive by
operating multiple demonstration and on-farm colearning sites.

(8) Developing production systems to exploit the newly released varieties of the biennial forage legume Sulla is being undertaken by SARDI with assistance from NSW DPI. The new varieties, Wilpena and Moonbi, have a potential application in both southern Australia and the subtropics for extensive and intensive forage application. The project will develop management systems that optimise the benefits to animal production by exploring issues including timing and intensity of grazing, variations in quality, nutrient values and chemical application options.

(9) Development of a commercial funding proposal for a national lucerne breeding program is being undertaken by the Pastures Australia Co-ordinator with assistance from each of the three current public breeding programs. A prospectus for presentation to potential industry investors is being written with completion planned for the end of 2007. The core incentive is the development of a national and export focused conserved forage business opportunity.

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Ground Cover Issue 62 - Pastures Supplement

Success with Lucerne (out of print)
A comprehensive guide to the role, establishment and management of lucerne in Australian cropping and grazing systems. This manual with full colour graphics and photographs is the result of cooperation between all sectors involved in the lucerne industry, including the seeds industry, R&D agencies, education and extension agencies, agri-business consultants and advisers Australia-wide

Making Lucerne Pay
This book presents 13 farm business case studies located across south-eastern Australia, with rainfall varying from 300mm to 580mm and soil types ranging from sand dunes to clays. Each case study looks at how lucerne has been integrated into a rotation, presents practical management techniques employed by the growers and also a detailed economic analysis of the 'before and after' lucerne scenario for each farm. Combining crops and lucerne in the rotation has enabled growers to spread their risks to remain economically viable.

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Useful Links

Pasture Picker
Designed for Australian farmers and their advisors the Pasture Picker tool allows growers easy access to regionally specific information about sown pasture species and varieties.
What makes Pasture Picker different is that growers can choose to filter the content by selecting their region (from a map or list), the end use of the pasture and the soil type and rainfall in which it is to be grown. For example, a mixed farmer east of Goondiwindi could choose a short term pasture on a clay soil to find the relevant information content.
Click here for the Pasture Picker website or click here for more information about how the website works.

Australian Agriculture and Natural Resources Online (AANRO)
An integrated knowledge discovery tool for agriculture and natural resources funded by Australian Commonwealth and State Governments and Research and Development Corporations. Users can type pasture related search terms to find resources relating to pastures.

AWI Introduction to Australian Pastures
Contains information to pasture selection, breeding programs and other investments supported by Australian Wool Innovation.

CRC for Future Farm Industries
Future Farm Industries CRC (FFI CRC) is developing new and adaptable farming systems for Australia by creating new land-use systems which will make agriculture more productive, adaptable to climate variability, sustainable and diverse.

EverGraze is developing and testing new farming systems in different environments across the high rainfall zone of southern Australia. The target is to increase profits of sheep and cattle enterprises by up to 50% and at the same time improve water management, use of perennials, biodiversity and soil health.

Evergreen Farming systems feature Perennial and annual species, Sub-tropical and temperate species, Grasses, legumes and herbs and Fodder shrubs.

Grain and Graze
The Grain & Graze Program commissions research to help mixed farmers improve the profitability and sustainability of their farms. Farmers are directly involved in local research and trials, testing new farming practices on more than 100 sites across Australia, and feeding these results back into the research projects.  Researchers focus their projects on cropping, pastures, livestock, profitability, whole-farm economics, social issues, feedbase management, farming systems and natural resources such as soil, water and biodiversity.

MLA Feed and Pastures Information Page
Contains a range of information in relation to pasture management.

RIRDC Pasture Seeds Program
Contains research, publications and reports from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation Pasture Seeds program.

Key Contacts

Rory Coffey
Pastures Australia Co-ordinator
C/- Australian Wool Innovation Limited
369 Royal Parade
Parkville VIC 3052
0417 926 263

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