Many regions are currently experiencing increased frequency and magnitude of droughts or extended periods without significant rainfall. With predictions that these conditions are expected to become the norm rather than the exception growers are looking to species that can respond to out of season rainfall in pasture mixes.
Traditionally many graziers have used either forage or dual-purpose grazing cereals for weight gain in cattle during the winter months. Sub-tropical pastures are another alternative that have been found to be very persistent and productive through the summer months but feed quality declines quickly and they provide poor quality feed through the cooler months. This winter period is when quality feed for livestock is critical.
Many of these producers are now examining the potential of perennial winter active temperate grass pastures such as Mediterranean fescue, cocksfoot or phalaris as alternatives to the annual cereal grazing crops.
In April 2014, Brad oversaw the sowing of a paddock of Flecha Mediterranean tall fescue and Titan 7 lucerne with a Conner Shea 8000 direct drill. The Flecha was sown through one seed box and the Titan 7 sown through the other. Each alternative distributor was blocked in the seed boxes so that the fescue and lucerne was planted in alternative sowing rows. Starter 15 fertiliser was top-dressed on the paddock prior to planting since the seeder only had two seed/fertiliser boxes.
An excellent establishment of both species was achieved after a favourable autumn and excellent summer fallow which allowed sowing into a full moisture profile. Brad believes that prior weed control and building a soil moisture profile are the two most critical factors in planning to sow a pasture.
Flecha Mediterranean tall fescue is an ideal perennial grass option in summer dry environments. Its ability to shut down and avoid the stress of hot summer temperatures gives the plant the ability to recover after late summer and early autumn rains.