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  • Writer's pictureASHEEP

FEED365 2022 Wrap – Esperance Demonstration Sites

ASHEEP is coordinating three demonstration sites in the FEED365 Project; a collaboration between the Department of Primary Industries & Regional Development (DPIRD) and Meat & Livestock Australia to research and redesign livestock forage systems to fill feed gaps, develop new feed base options and integrate them into grazing systems.

Those who attended our Spring Field Day had the opportunity to visit two of the demonstration sites hosted by the Sullivan’s at the Esperance Downs Research Station. Results were variable, with one treatment plan producing a high performing pasture, while a second paddock treatment led to capeweed dominance. Following is a summary of project activities over the year past. DPIRD intends to crunch the data and provide further analysis which will be released down the track as part of the overarching project. This will include a review of the financial costs and benefits.

Project Background

The FEED365 project commenced in 2021 at the Katanning Research Facility, and six grower groups around WA are now involved in demonstration sites. ASHEEP’s sites are running from 2022 to 2024. These kinds of projects don’t come together without a significant degree of in-kind support. Our thanks go to demonstration site hosts Josh & Tegan Sullivan, Mitchell Greaves & Demi Vandenberghe, to David Vandenberghe and Mark Walter for their involvement in the project committee, to Jake Hann (Nutrien Ag Solutions) for condition scoring sheep, to Sinead O’Gara (South Coastal Agencies) for pasture analysis, Nutrien Ag Solutions for donating the tedera seed, and to the team at Summit for providing N-Gauge strips and a component of the soil testing.

In late 2021, the DPIRD research team led by Dr Daniel Real with Dr Clinton Revell, Dr Angelo Loi, and Dr Paul Sanford, commenced exploring options that would address one or more feed gaps in the Esperance region. Treatments were developed in consultation with ASHEEP representatives of the ASHEEP Committee and data to be captured included soil testing, pasture growth (biomass and nutritive analysis) and sheep productivity (liveweight, condition score, stocking density, grazing days). Three demonstration sites were selected for Year 1 of the project. These sites will be utilised for the three-year duration of the project.

Site 1: Early feed in a Pasture - Cropping Rotation

Location: Esperance Downs Research Station, Gibson

Host: Josh & Tegan Sullivan

Profile: Soil sample 0-40cm, sand to sandy loam, 5.9-6.4 pH(w)

Paddock History: Regenerating pasture of rye grass, sub clovers, capeweed.

Objective: To increase early and late grazing potential while preserving sub clover.

Demonstration Plan: This paddock was divided in half, with intention for a dry-seeded pasture mix sown at two different rates.

  • Half A = 47 kg/ha seed plus 20 kg/ha Alosca rhizobia inoculum: Leafmore Brassica 2kg, RM4 Vetch 15kg, Triticale 30kg, Alosca FE 10kg, Alosca C 10kg

  • Half B = 84 kg/ha seed plus 20 kg/ha Alosca rhizobia inoculum: Leafmore Brassica 4kg, RM4 Vetch 25kg, Triticale 55kg, Alosca FE 10kg, Alosca C 10kg

Brassica was included for early feed, vetch for late feed and nitrogen production, and triticale for early winter feed and stubble cover.

There was no pre-sow knockdown in an attempt to retain the existing sub-clovers. The paddock was sown 19/5/22 into marginal moisture (this seeding date was later than intended due to availability of seed). The paddock was fertilised with superphosphate on 12/4/22 spread at 100 kg/ha, and 1 L/ha Pyrinex Super insecticide (90 L/ha water vol) was applied on 24/5/22 predominantly to control red legged earth mite.

Grazing commenced on 04/08/22 with 108 ewe hoggets in each half. Sheep were removed after 20 days on 23/8/22 due to scouring caused by a significant capeweed burden in the paddock. Sheep gained weight and condition score in the high seeding rate treatment but only maintained weight in the low seeding rate treatment. At that point the demonstration was terminated.

Sinead O’Gara (South Coastal Agencies) took pasture samples on 16/08/22. A quadrat cut (1m2) was taken in each half to measure dry matter (DM) production of the pasture. Visual analysis indicated capeweed was the dominant species in both treatments.

Sinead reported that the capeweed would have contributed to the high moisture content of the pasture in August and likely led to the observed scouring.

Adequate roughage/fibre needs to be provided to reduce the risk of weight loss and this was provided to some extent in Half B with the higher triticale seedling rate leading to a modest positive weight gain and less scouring. Even so, the capeweed still dominated and the demonstration was terminated to allow broadleaf herbicide control measures.

The paddock reverted to management at the Sullivans’ discretion, with Josh reporting that on 24/8/22 the paddock was sprayed with Amine 625 at 1.2 L/ha to control the capeweed and recover the paddock. Sheep were then used to graze the capeweed down and following that, the whole paddock was knocked down with 1L/ha Paraquat to desiccate the entire pasture mix and weeds.

Key Messages

In this demonstration, the sowing of a pasture seed mix was not successful in meeting the main objective of establishing early grazing potential and preserving subclover. The two main challenges to success were:

  • The site was not sown early enough to provide early grazing.

While planning decisions were made in early 2022, it was too late for the required seed to be delivered in time to be sown early. Once the seed had arrived, the Sullivans had commenced their main crop seeding program and it was necessary to wait for an available window for them to have an opportunity to seed the demonstration sites. As a result, the pasture was not able to establish in time for an early grazing opportunity. An earlier dry sowing time would be considered by DPIRD in the future.

  • No pre-sow knockdown applied, allowing capeweed to establish dominance.

The treatment did not incorporate a pre-sow knockdown, with the intent of retaining existing sub-clover. The capeweed content was much greater than anticipated and dominated both halves of the paddock. There was no selective option for weed control that would eliminate the capeweed whilst retaining the pasture mix, given that any application available to target the capeweed would also impact two of the three species in the pasture mix (RM4 Vetch and Leafmore Brassica). The pasture mix in Half B (higher triticale sowing rate) produced a modest weight gain in the sheep, however, capeweed was still observed as the dominant species. Understanding the weed burden is important when designing the species mixtures so that appropriate herbicide options are available and implemented.

In 2023 this paddock will be cropped, with the potential to monitor crop grazing.

Site 2: Pasture Mix for long term pastures

Location: Esperance Downs Research Station, Gibson

Host: Josh & Tegan Sullivan

Profile: Soil samples 0-40cm, loamy sand / sand, subject to waterlogging, 5.7-6.2 pH(water)

Paddock History: Long-term regenerating pasture including brome grass, silver grass, geranium, rye grass, sub clovers.

Objective: To use tetraploid ryegrass to suppress unwanted grasses such as brome and silvergrass, and to increase pasture biomass Demonstration Plan: This paddock was sown with a pasture mix and then divided in half, with one half grazed (Half A) and the other kept for hay (Half B). A deep rip strip was included for comparison purposes.

  • Seed mix 37 kg/ha plus 20 kg/ha Alosca rhizobia inoculum: Vortex Tetraploid Ryegrass 10kg, Balansa Clover 2kg, Express Forage Oat 15kg, RM4 Vetch 10kg, Alosca FE 10kg, Alosca C 10kg

Balansa clover was added for legume content and potential water logging issues. Forage oats was added for late production of feed and a longer grazing period. Vetch was included for late feed and nitrogen production.

The paddock was sown 19/5/22 into good moisture. Management included a pre-sow knockdown herbicide on 15/4/22 (1% Amsul, 400 ml/ha ester 680, 1.5 L/ha Roundup 540, 0.3% Inbound, with 80 L/ha water vol), and an insecticide application on 24/5/22 1L/ha Pyrinex Super (90 L/ha water vol). Fertiliser included superphosphate spread @100 kg/ha on 12/4/22, N gauge strips applied by Summit on 27/6/22, and 90 L/ha Proboost (liquid Nitrogen) which equals to 20 kg/ha nitrogen on 29/7/22.

Grazing commenced in Half A with 108 ewe hoggets added on 04/08/22. Shortly

afterwards, Sinead O’Gara used a True Test Pasture Meter to estimate Food On Offer at 2950 kg/ha and used the MLA Stocking Rate Calculator to assess that, assuming grazing for the next 60 days, there was a need to increase the stocking rate to 26 sheep/ha (based on a feed allowance of 2 kg DM/head/day which is consumption plus loss from trampling). This calculator is freely available on MLA’s website. On 12/08/22, 108 additional ewe hoggets were added.

MLA Stocking Rate Calculator
MLA Stocking Rate Calculator

Early animal growth rates and overall grazing days were very high

suggesting the pasture mix was beneficial. Growth rates fell towards the end of grazing, presumably due to declining pasture quality and sheep numbers perhaps should have been reduced. Sinead O’Gara took pasture samples for biomass and nutritive testing on 20/08/22 and at the end of grazing on 19/10/22. Unfortunately, the second sample was delayed in transit resulting in the sample being mouldy on arrival at the lab, and whilst it showed the quality and quantity of pasture had reduced, it cannot be relied on for accuracy. Sinead also took samples from a grazing cage placed in a nearby paddock being

used as a “control”, which contains a standard regenerating pasture mix for the property, including some oestrogenic sub clovers. The plan was to also graze and measure weight gain in the control paddock but this did not happen in this season. The comparison of the two samples is shown below.

As the season progressed, barley grass and brome grass became a problem. To extend the grazing life of the paddock, Josh initially slashed Half A on 4/10/22. This knocked off the developing seeds, and once they had reshot several weeks later Josh removed the sheep and spray topped to prevent further seed. At that point the last animal measurements were taken.

Meanwhile in Half B, where the pasture had been left for hay, the mix was looking very promising. The hay was cut on 5/10/22 and baled on 20/10/22. A sample has been taken for testing and we look forward to sharing the results when available.

Josh has reported that following the spray topping, he has been able to continue to graze both halves of the paddock and currently has 200 lambs finishing it off. In Half A the ryegrass and some vetch has come back following the spray topping and with the late rains the area has continued to provide feed. After being cut for hay, Half B has had vetch, oats, balansa, and ryegrass reshoot and is providing valuable late feed. The rain has not been ideal for harvest, but the pastures are enjoying it.

In 2023 this paddock will be put into two separate experimental pasture mixes sown in February ideally to provide autumn feed, spell over winter, then graze again through to late spring.

Site 3: Lanza Tedera

Location: The Oaks, Dalyup

Host: Mitchell Greaves & Demi Vandenberghe

Profile: Soil samples 0-40cm, loamy sand to clay loam, 5.5-8.2 pH(w)

Paddock History: 5 ha creek-side paddock in pasture, unsuitable for a crop rotation with a sloping topography, higher rainfall and little by way of drainage issues.

Objective: Establish tedera as a permanent pasture to graze over the summer-autumn feed gap. Demonstration Plan: Establish tedera in winter 2022 and graze in autumn 2023.

  • Lanza Tedera 10 kg/ha, Nodulaid Tedera inoculumn

Establishment of the tedera is ongoing and has taken two attempts. The paddock was coming out of an existing regenerating pasture with a significant weed burden, and initial preparations involved a first knockdown spray on 6/6/22 (3 L/ha Roundup, 1% wetter), a second knockdown on 15/6/22 with insecticide to target redlegged earthmite (2 L/ha Paraquat, 300 ml/ha Le-Mat, 1% wetter), the paddock then sown 16/6/22, followed by pre-emergent herbicides on 17/6/22 (500 g/ha Diuron, 1 L/ha Reflex, 1 L/ha Propyzamide). Redlegged earthmite (RLEM) proved persistent and on 4/8/22 a second insecticide application was delivered (300 ml/ha Le-Mat).

The paddock was assessed by Daniel Real on 10/8/22. An average of 6 tedera plants/m2 were observed, severely damaged by RLEM. The last miticide/insecticide was sprayed a couple of days prior and stopped the damage, but plants were too few and too weak to try to recover the site. Comments also included that the decomposing pasture that the tedera was sown into would have challenged establishment of any pasture or crop and that with new weeds germinating (predominantly grasses and double gees) the decision was made to spray out the first establishment, and resow.

The second establishment involved another round of treatments for weed control. These occurred on 22/08/22 (Glyphosate 570 g a.i /ha [Roundup Ultra Max] at 2.5 L/ha), 01/09/22 (2.5 L/ha Paraquat, 25 g/ha Sharpen, 2% Hasten), and on 03/09/22 (pre-emergent, 1 L/ha Propyzamide and 0.5 L/ha of Pyrinex Super to control pests). The tedera was resown on 6/9/22 at 10.5 kg/ha plus Nodulaid Tedera inoculumn.

As you can see from the photos of the September sowing, whilst the tedera got away, there was still a significant germination of grass weeds. On 24/11/22 Mitch sprayed out a selective grass control to remove these plus another round of insecticide (100 L/ha water rate, 500 ml/ha Clethodim, 100 ml/ha Le-Mat, 1% wetter).

We expect to be able to start capturing measurements on this site in 2023, with hopes to graze during February / March. An interesting aspect of this demonstration for Mitch has been comparing the tedera to lucerne, which is also grown at The Oaks. Whilst we are not following the lucerne as part of this project, as we move forward it will be good to get his thoughts on how the two varieties comparatively perform.

Key Messages for Establishing Tedera

  • Select a paddock as weed free as possible, preferably after one or more crops.

  • Early intervention to control weeds is important as tedera seedlings are not very tolerant of competition. Mature plants are much better at competing with annual weeds.

  • If the paddock is a long-term pasture paddock, it is important that there is sufficient time for the pasture to die and break down before seeding.

  • Tedera establishment requires regular and ongoing monitoring to respond to weed and insect pressure, similar to other crops and pastures.



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