GRDC commits to future of mixed-farming RD&E
GroundCover™ Issue: 110 | 05 May 2014 | Author: Rebecca Thyer
The successful Grain & Graze program, which integrates mixed-farming research, development and extension – the foundation on which much of Australian broadacre farming stands – is entering a third phase focusing on risk management, grazing on crop lands and crop/fodder rotations.
Funded by the GRDC for the next three years, the new $3.8 million Grain & Graze 3 (G&G3), covering southern and western Australia, aims to improve the profitability, sustainability and resilience of mixed-farming enterprises, which account for the majority of Australia’s broadacre landholdings.
GRDC Grain & Graze program manager Tanya Robinson says G&G3 will build on past achievements, which saw widespread practice change including greater stubble retention, and perennial legume use for increased fodder and improved environmental outcomes.
A better understanding of risk factors has also helped increase grower confidence in decision-making, something that southern region coordinator Cam Nicholson wants to take further: “We will be drilling down to a local level and aiming to do individual risk assessments, piloted in G&G2. We’ll be looking at everything that influences people’s thinking and what they do.”
Western Australian coordinator Danielle England says G&G3 will be a challenging new concept for the growers involved. “It will not be all about crop yields and disease risk, but other ‘whole-of-business’ risks and how the mixed-farming system fits together.”
In the south, the new program will also aim to quantify stubble’s grazing value, while addressing weed, nitrogen and moisture management, in an effort to avoid waterlogging by planting and grazing legumes and other fodders.
In the west’s high-rainfall zone, the program will explore how, when sown early, winter or long-season and spring-type cereals can provide both livestock feed in early to mid-winter and a high-yielding grain crop at harvest. In the mid-rainfall zone the focus will be the interactions between crop grazing and frost damage and how different varieties respond to both. In the low-rainfall zone, demonstrations and trials will look at fodder options.
Phil Barrett-Lennard, who coordinated the previous program’s crop grazing and crop fodder parts for the west, says G&G3 will narrow its focus: “We had sown standard crop varieties at standard sowing times and then grazed, but to maximise the amount of dry matter available for grazing, an earlier sowing time is critical. And with this comes the need for different varieties.”
Both regions will also look at increasing pasture phase productivity while dealing with crop phase issues.
0417 311 098
0429 676 077
GRDC Project Code FGI00010, SFS00028
Region National, North, South, West
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