Perennial demo

Perennial demo
A demonstration spanning six years and involving producer demonstrations, is underway at the Gippsland Research Farm on the Bengworden Road.  
Gippsland Agricultural Group (GAgG) board member and pasture sub-committee lead, Dave Caldwell, is looking forward to bringing other producers into theˇproject. 
The demonstration is half funded by Meat and Livestock Australia and is titled ?Establishing permanent pasture in a variable climate", looking at methods, species and blends.
Mr Caldwell said the aim of the demonstration was to determine and increase the on-farm adoption of persistent and productive perennial pastures for Gippsland.
"The demonstration is to investigate species, establishment methods, ground cover potential, species persistence and the impacts of soil moisture levels," Mr Caldwell said.
"The three paddock preparation methods are a chemical fallow over summer leading into an autumn direct drilling; a pre-planting knockdown spray prior to autumn direct drilling, and an annual cropping phase the year prior to an autumn direct drilling."
The demonstration will also assess the success of establishing six perennial pasture mixes, which include:
- Perennial ryegrass, subclover, white clover
- Winter active fescue, two subclovers
- Summer active fescue, phalaris, two subclovers, cocksfoot
- Phalaris, cocksfoot, plantain, chickory, white clover
- Lucerne, subclover, white clover (in year 1, then direct drill chickory, plantain, winter-active fescue in year 2)
- phalaris, cocksfoot, prairie grass, chickory, white clover, oats, leafy turnip, tillage raddish, linseed and plantain
 The demonstration will run only at the research farm this year, then move to three producer demonstration sites in 2021 and three more in 2022. 
"The aim is to spread these producer demonstrations from Traralgon East to the border, including some of the High Country," Mr Caldwell said.
"Producers will be able to use the observations of the establishment methods and species demonstrated and pick the components they wish to take to their on farm demonstration."
The pastures group also aims to measure the effect of different soil preparation regimes, monitor the influence of soil moisture and temperature on the speed and success of establishment, working towards improving producer decision making around perennial pasture establishment.
Demonstrating an average improved pasture production of at least three tonnes of dry matter per hectare (dm/ha), compared to unimproved, or drought-degraded pasture, managed under standard farm conditions is another aim.
The group will also conduct a cost benefit analysis to determine the relative economic performance of the different perennial pasture mixes and compare with an annual grazed cropping rotation and an unimproved pasture. 
Mr Caldwell said there had been such a wet start to the year that native annual ryegrass had taken off.
"That's what happens when you cultivate here, all this country has a deep bed of native annual rye grass but one hot week in September and it'll be done," he said.
Expressions of interest to run a producer demonstration site will open on September 15.
Contact GAgG to express your interest.