News | August 26, 2022

New Project To Unlock Perfect Fodder Crop Combination

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Meat and Livestock Australia have launched a new project to determine the best multi-species fodder crop combinations in crop-livestock systems, specific to each region.

DPI Research Officer, Dr Mark Norton, said the outcomes of this four-year, $4M project will be a game changer for mixed-farming producers.

“Livestock producers across the country, have so far relied on their own experiences and those of their peers and consultants, as there is limited data for Australian farming systems,” Dr Norton said,

“This project will provide producers with local data to help inform choice of species and develop management guidelines to address the challenges that growing mixed species presents.”

The project team will monitor the agronomic and livestock production benefits of sowing mixed versus single species fodder crops with the goal of uncovering the best combination of species for each region.

“We aim to provide producers with guidelines on the best combination of species and how to manage them,” he said.

"From a livestock perspective, interest in multi-species fodder crops has been prompted by the potential for greater biomass production and a need to address animal health issues encountered with single species fodder crops.

“Mineral imbalances on cereal crops, bloat-like symptoms among cattle on grazing brassicas and bloat or red-gut on pure legume stands.

“That is why it is important that we also address concerns raised by producers and advisers reluctant to include mixed-species crops in their farming systems, including problems with weed and disease management.”

Meat & Livestock Australia General Manager for Research, Development and Adoption Michael Crowley said they were excited to be part of the project.

“Benefits of a mixed species offering for producers could potentially include better balanced nutritional profiles for livestock, higher animal growth rates, a longer growing season and higher biomass production,” Mr Crowley said.

“MLA is proud to be working alongside DPI in testing a wide range of species mixtures, studying soil C dynamics, forage nutrient profiles and biomass production across three years and multiple seasons.”

Data collected from detailed experimental sites will be validated by a series of on-farm demonstration sites in the mixed farming zone of NSW, bringing together research findings and producer experiences.

Source: NSW Government