- PhD research informs sheep producers about the use of drought tolerant pastures for grazing and forage production
- Dr Lucy Watt investigated new types of hard-seeded annual legumes
- Dr Watt will be awarded her PhD at a graduation ceremony at Wagga Wagga at 2pm on Monday 16 December
Charles Sturt University graduate Dr Lucy Watt’s PhD research has shown the potential for hard-seeded annual legumes to fill the feed gap for southern NSW sheep producers.
Her research through the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation has focused on biserrula, bladder clover, arrowleaf clover and French serradella.
“These new generation of hard-seeded legumes have traits that allow them to grow in variable and adverse conditions compared to the traditional pasture species of subterranean clover and lucerne,” Dr Watt said.
“While agronomic studies have highlighted their suitability in pasture crop rotations there was little research into livestock production from these species”.
“My research examined grazing these legumes and their use as conserved forage to look at the impact on sheep growth rates, wool growth and incidence of health disorders.”
Dr Watt (pictured) said experiments took in the period from late winter to late spring in 2015 gave insight into how the hard-seeded legumes could be used to boost total on-farm feed supply.
“Lambs fed these legumes as grazed (monocultures and legume + oat swards) and conserved forages (hays and silages) may have similar or better growth rates than those fed traditional legume species,” Dr Watt said.
“The results indicate that these legumes may be strategically utilised in long-term pastures or pasture-crop rotation systems to ensure that on-farm feed supply meets the intake and nutritional requirements of livestock.
“Using these legumes as conserved forages may also lessen feed quality and quantity gaps while maintaining or improving animal live weight.
“My research may help producers to make informed decisions about the inclusion of these species for more sustainable and productive livestock and mixed farming enterprises in southern NSW where species such as subterranean clover may not persist.”
Dr Watt will be awarded her PhD in a graduation ceremony at 2pm on Monday 16 December. She is one of nine PhD graduates from the Graham Centre.
Her research was supported by a University Research Centre scholarship and Meat & Livestock Australia.