Unlocking the way to better pastures

15 Mar, 2001 05:52 AM
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RECENT pasture seminars in the northern Wheatbelt have identified the benefits of sowing and effectively managing new varieties to help rebuild existing pasture paddocks, control growing herbicide resistance and take advantage of rising livestock prices.

Co-ordinated by the Elders agronomy team at Geraldton, the seminars ‹ at Northampton and Walkaway ‹ discussed the implementation and management of new pastures within current farming systems in the areas.

Agronomist Karl Suckling said there was still quite a bit of pasture grown in the Northampton region despite the general swing to cropping in recent years, although its quality could be significantly improved by the introduction of new varieties and better management.

At Walkaway, he said expanding cropping rotations had increased resistance to herbicides in the area, with farmers now looking at alternative options like pastures and greater livestock production to help manage the problem.

"Many continuous croppers are needing to diversify and spread their risk before they hit the wall with herbicide resistance,'' Mr Suckling said.

"Livestock production doesn't offer the same potential cash flow as cropping, but it does provide a stable income, while pasture production provides opportunities for following cash crops as well as improved sustainability."

Guest speaker at the seminars, Agriculture WA's Caroline Peak, discussed the profitability of reintroducing pastures into farming systems.

Mr Suckling said, providing growers had the relevant infrastructure, it was reasonably simple to establish new pasture varieties, which also offered significant production advances compared with traditional lines.

He said there was a "one-off'' establishment cost involved, but with good management to allow the pastures to persist, this could be considered a longer-term investment.

pMore information: Elders Geraldton agronomist Karl Suckling, 9921 2944 or 0427 096 506.

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