Careful selection and management of pastures can set mixed farmers up to capitalise on strong livestock prices, according to Dr Jeff McCormick, a researcher with the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation.
A lecturer with Charles Sturt University's (CSU) School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences, Dr McCormick will present the findings of pasture survey of mixed farms in southern NSW at the Australian Agronomy Conference on Monday 25 September.
"The survey was carried out in collaboration with the Farmlink Research Group in spring 2016," Dr McCormick said.
"Lucerne and subterranean clover were sown in 80 per cent of paddocks, and while some paddocks were sown with only one species, others had up to six different pasture species in the mix.
"When we looked at what was actually growing, there was a big range between individual paddocks in terms of performance. In some paddocks the sown species accounted for only 11 per cent of the dry matter and in others it was as high as 89 percent.
"This points to the need for further research about the best ways of establishing pastures and their management to ensure they remain productive."
Dr McCormick's current research is examining whether lucerne pastures can be more productive if they are sown on their own.
"Field trials will compare sowing a straight lucerne paddock with a mix of lucerne and clover, there'll also be comparisons between different sowing rates," Dr McCormick said. "Other experiments of hard-seeded annual legumes like arrowleaf clover and biserrula will explore water use and seasonal biomass potential for these species."Dr McCormick's research is supported by a Graham Centre Research Centre Fellowship.