Knight a versatile performer in cropping rotations

Phillip Hamilton, Ulverstone TAS

Deciding what crop to sow following vegetables was an important decision for Phillip Hamilton in North West Tasmania. After planting Knight, the latest diploid Italian ryegrass variety from Agricom, he hasn’t looked back.

Based at Spalford, south of Ulverstone, Phillip needed to produce as much home grown feed as quickly as possible to support his beef operation. This decision was particularly important to spread his income throughout the year.

Phillip currently runs around 100 heifers and has a contract to local company Greenhams which are more than happy with the cows he produces.

“Cropping rotation and commodity prices largely dictate the life of my grass break crop, it can be from 1 to 3 years per paddock.”

Knight’s reputation for strong second year production, in favourable conditions, was one of the standout features that attracted Phillip to try out the variety on his home patch. 

Phillip was one of many farmers in the region who sowed Knight Italian ryegrass in the autumn of 2014.

Phillip Hamilton (left) and Roberts Agro Tim Walker in a Knight pasture
Phillip Hamilton (left) and Roberts agronomist Tim Walker in a Knight Italian ryegrass pasture

Knight was sowed following a carrot crop for quick winter feed and to produce quality silage and hay during spring and early summer if irrigation occurred. 

Phillip chooses Italian ryegrass for crop rotation on his farm to maximise pasture yields from the area and the flexibility it provides.

Knight suited Phillip’s cropping rotation as it was grazed throughout the winter and in spring produced 90 bales of silage off 6 hectares from 2 cuts.

“Over those silage cuts Knight produced close to 20 tonnes per ha of quality silage”. This silage was then used to feed his cattle and sold to nearby dairy farms.

A rather dry summer slowed the growth rate of pastures all over the farm. Phillip could have cut Knight over summer for hay but chose to graze it instead.

“I was surprised how Knight stayed green over summer.”   

With its ability to respond quickly to irrigation or summer rainfall once watered “it just performed again.”

Blair McCormick, Product Development Manager for Agricom, said it was a tall order to breed a fast starting Italian ryegrass that produces comparable feed to some annual ryegrasses. Knight was selected because of its rapid establishment capabilities and outstanding autumn and winter yields.

“Knight’s quick speed out of the ground means the pasture is up and growing quickly to produce strong autumn and winter yields,” he said.

Phillip said the farm is already in better shape than this time last year, with hay and silage at the ready and the warm weather boosting pasture growth in irrigated areas.

Knight “produced a power of feed” for Phillip and he plans to sow more Knight this year.

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