New era for high rainfall

Cropping is expanding in the high-rainfall areas of Australia as growers search for enterprise diversification.

According to Maitland SA farmer and GRDC Southern Region panel member Neil Smith, with this has come the need to review annual pasture legume research priorities for these areas. This is what took place at Hamilton, Victoria, recently.

What they wish for

South-eastern SA farmer Hugh Jarvis, a member of the GRDC-Woolmark Industry

Linkage Group, said the workshop had addressed three core areas:

  • producers' future needs from pastures as a ruminant feed source
  • pasture varieties and systems that could enhance the profitability of future crops
  • better pasture species for problem areas including deep acid sandy soils, saline areas and waterlogged sites.

Specifically the wishlist included:

  • pasture varieties that wouldbetter fill the autumn feed gap and grow more quickly following the autumn break
  • an intermediate hard -seeded yellow serradella for acid sands. The new release Cadiz was very popular but was soft-seeded and affected by false breaks, whereas the yellow serradellas were very hard-seeded
  • species better adapted to sowing in the last year of a cropping phase
  • more varietal diversity for soils that become waterlogged, along with deeper-rooted species which could help dry out the soil profile.

NAPLIP coordinator Bill Collins said balansa clover was being grown on waterlogged areas and the new release Bolta had extended the range where this clover species could succeed. However, there was a need to increase species diversity rather than have an annual legume monoculture develop.

He said the workshop had reinforced the need for growers to have access to affordable seed supplies.

The breeding and release of new aerial-seeding varieties would help achieve this aim as growers could harvest with conventional headers.

This development also had sustainability ramifications. Current seed harvesting using the 'vacuum cleaner' approach predisposed land to wind erosion.

As far as pests and diseases are concerned, Dr Collins said the workshop had identified clover scorch as an ongoing problem along with red-legged earth mite. Curiously, growers did not identify Phytophthora root rot as a major issue.