Ecotain®

Environmental Plantain

Enterprise Type

Sowing Rate

10-14 kg/ha, 6-8 kg/ha in clover mix

Rainfall / Irrigation

600mm+

Ecotain® - The Plant

Ecotain® environmental plantain is a mineral rich perennial grazing herb. Ecotain® is fast establishing and tolerant to a wide range of soils. This includes less fertile soils and especially dryland regions of approximately 600 mm rainfall. Ecotain® has a deep coarse root system, which gives it a degree of drought tolerance and the ability to respond quickly after summer dry conditions. Ecotain® pastures offer some great animal performance potential for sheep, beef and dairy farmers, particularly in winter and spring, as well as supporting a high level of animal health, reduced incidence of dags in sheep and good micronutrient supply. Pure stands of Ecotain® can be used during lambing to increase lamb and ewe weights at weaning.


Ecotain® has also been shown to reduce the amount of N lost from farm systems. Ecotain® can reduce N leaching from the urine patch by up to 89%*.


Ecotain® can be sown alone as a pure stand or recommended in perennial pasture mixes, especially medium  term, quality finishing mixes (refer page 53, SPS Signature Range - Autumn Ecotain® Blends).

 

Sowing rates for mixes:

3-5kg/ha in perennial pasture mix

6-8kg/ha when mixed with clover

4kg/ha in a lucerne stand

6-8kg/ha when mixed with 2kg/ha brassica

Ecotain® in grass mixes for dairy production

 

Adding Ecotain® to dairy pastures can significantly increase milk production. Figure 1 demonstrates a 2L/cow/day increase in milk production when cows grazing low quality ryegrass were supplemented Ecotain®.

Ecotain® improves palatability in late spring and summer when grass goes reproductive, improving pasture utilisation.

The rapid rumen degradation time of Ecotain® allows cows to spend less time ruminating and more time eating, increasing feed intake and  milk production.

Having Ecotain® in your dairy system can also  help reduce nitrogen leaching by up to 89% (Woods, 2017 used with permission). Benefiting your farm and the environment.

Ecotain® forage systems can increase sheep liveweight production. The winter activity of Ecotain® allows farmers to lamb ewes or maiden hoggets on high quality forage, resulting in heavier lambs and ewes at weaning. Four separate trials have shown Ecotain® increased lamb weaning weights by 10 to 34%.


Livestock tend to be healthier on Ecotain®, due to elevated levels of important minerals (Zn, Cu, Se, MG, Ca, K). Ecotain® stands have also shown anecdotal evidence of less dags on sheep and a reduced risk of facial eczema spore.

The winter activity of Ecotain® is exceptional. Our Ballarat research farm showed that Ecotain® can produce up to 3000kgDM/ha more than other plantain varieties from May - September.

This feed is some of the most valuable produced during the year and is crucial for the success of Ecotain® based farm systems.

Ecotain® winter activity (left) vs. winter dormant plantain types (right), photo taken mid winter 2018.

Ecotain® has the ability to recover quickly from long dry periods once it receives moisture, getting to a grazable mass very quickly. This autumn recovery can provide quick feed while grass paddocks regrow.

The ability of Ecotain® to survive dry periods makes it a great 2-3 year option in 600mm+ rainfall environments where a high quality forage is required from autumn to late spring/summer.

Ecotain® immediate response 2 days after autumn break (Left) Ecotain® 6 weeks after autumn break (Right)

Ecotain® suits grazing management similar to perennial ryegrass. To maximise production and quality, rotationally graze on a 20-25 day rotation in spring.

Rotations of this length will minimise seed head build up. Sheep rotations of 35 days or more can reduce palatability. Pre grazing residuals should be 12 -15cm and should be grazed down to 3-5cm before stock are removed. Cattle rotations can be longer as the fibre content is beneficial and they are less selective.

Ecotain® can be set stocked at lambing time, but ewes and lambs should be put onto a rotational grazinFresh Ecotain® growth is highly palatable and is preferentially grazed. It suits grazing management similar to ryegrass, with potential yields like that of perennial ryegrass. Ideally  a 20-25 day rotation will maintain seed head palatability through late spring and summer. A grazing rotation of  greater than 40 days can lead to a reduction in palatability, particularly of older leaves.

Older leaves do not brown or  break down as fast as grass species and can stay in the sward for months, becoming more fibrous. Post grazing residuals of 2-4 cm are quite sustainable as long as the pastures are not set stocked at these levels for extended periods.g system after marking.

Young cattle grazing pure sward plantain, Central NSW

Ecotain® adds diversity to pasture mixes, increasing the palatability and quality of swards. Increased palatability leads to higher intake and better utilisation. 

The following shows recommended rates of Ecotain® with various grasses such as Savvy cocksfoot, Hummer tall fescue, One50 perennial ryegrass and Knight Italian ryegrass.

 

Ecotain® 5kg/ha: Knight Italian ryegrass 15kg/ha

Ecotain® 5kg/ha: Savvy cocksfoot 8kg/ha

Ecotain® 5kg/ha: Hummer tall fescue 15kg/ha

Ecotain® 5kg/ha: One50 AR37 perennial ryegrass 15kg/ha

Ecotain® 4kg/ha: Titan 5 Lucerne 8kg/ha

Ecotain® 8kg/ha: Mainstar forage rape 2kg/ha

Ecotain® and Hunter forage brassica.

Ecotain® is a fast-establishing, productive and persistent winter active forage, suited over a wide range of soil types and climatic conditions. This includes less fertile soils and dryland regions (minimum average rainfall of 600 mm).

Ecotain® can be prone to damage by red legged earthmites and slugs, especially at establishment. To help minimise damage, Kickstart® seed treatment is recommended  and slug bait if required. 


Ecotain® can be established either by:

  • Sowing into cultivated ground
  • Broadcasting - from ground or air
  • Mulch sowing - into summer grass
  • Oversowing - drilling into existing pasture/lucerne

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