AFF spends a substantial amount of time and money on research and development to better understand and improve pastures at all of our properties. Improved pastures can increase the carrying capacity of a property by more than 100%.In each case our sowing plans are part of a long term plan that is tailored not only for each property but for the specific soil types on each property. Our objectives are ultimately to significantly increase the carrying capacity of each property and to ensure that the pastures sown: -- Provide adequate ground cover to protect the soil and avoid top soil being blown away; -- Provide the maximum amount of protein and bulk to maximise weight gain in the sheep; -- Continue to provide protein and bulk during the growing seasons but also as far as possible into summer. This minimises the need to feed hay and supplements during summer; -- Put targeted nutrients back into the soil and also increase the amount of CO2 absorbed by the pasture -- Reduce the weed content within each paddock; -- Require minimal upkeep after initial sowing; and -- Minimise the need for fertilisers, chemicals and other supplements.
Going forward, pasture improvement is an area that we continue to expect to invest heavily. In particular as technology improves and allows us to better map soil types and pastures and to overlay them against information on weight gain in the sheep, we anticipate that we will further refine the pasture mix and sowing techniques. Ultimately Management sees this as an area where R&D will generate significant gains in the carrying capacity of our properties.
A brief overview of some of the seeds that we are using on our East and West coast operations is set out below:
Italian Ryegrass - Lolium multiflorum
Italian ryegrasses are a highly nutritious and productive short term pasture option for areas with mild summers and reliable rainfall or irrgation. Generally used for the production of quality hay or silage, Italian ryegrasses may also be used to oversow depleted perennial pastures for fast growth and short term improvement.
Subterranean Clover - Trifolium subterraneum
Subterranean clover is a self-regenerating annual that gets its name from its ability to bury its seed. Native to the Mediterranean region, sub clovers grow on a wide range of soil types and varying rainfall, from 250mm to in excess of 750mm.
Cocksfoot - Dactylis glomerata
Cocksfoot is a deep-rooted perennial grass of high to moderate drough tolerance, native to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean regions. The first varieties were introduced to Australia from Northern Africa in the 1930s. Cocksfoot needs reasonably well-drained soils to persist, and will tolerate soils of very low pH.
Phalaris - Phalaris aquatica
Phalaris is a deep-rooted perennial grass native to the Mediterranean region, once established it is drought tolerant and persistent. Phalaris has very low seedling vigour and care should be taken at establishment. It will persist on a wide range of soil types including heavy waterlogged soils. Phalaris is the most sensitive of the temperate grasses to acid soils, and performs best on neutral soils.
Margurita French Serradella - Ornithopus sativus
Margurita serradella is a highly productive pasture legume, producing a large amount of biomass and substantial amounts of nitrogen. It is suited to a wide variety of acidic soil types, ranging from river loams, duplex soils, gravels and poor sandy soils. Serradella has an extensive root system and grows well in sand. This root system enables it to survive long periods of low rainfall and assists in reducing the risk of wind erosion. Serradella remains green and continues to grow many weeks after other pastures have died.
Biserrula - Biserrula pelecinus
Biserrula is a self regenerating annual legume which can grow up to 50cm tall. Biserrula in comparison to subterranean clover is deeper rooted and this assists in it being able to withstand moisture stress which can be commonly encountered in spring. The deeper root system allows it to better access moisture and also enables it to remain green later in the season