Growing almost eight tonnes/hectare of dry matter in a dry season in East Gippsland has been one of the reasons a demonstration site has succeeded in its objectives this year. This part of Gippsland received 65 per cent of the annual average rainfall for 2017, with only two months where rainfall events were substantial.
In the spring of 2016, Agriculture Victoria established a demonstration site at Swan Reach in East Gippsland. This is part of the EGCMA’s Topsoils project and is trialling three methods of reducing Parramatta Grass within the pasture, improving the pasture and its composition and thereby improving the pasture’s productive capacity. Parramatta Grass (Sporobolus africanus), also known as Rat’s Tail Grass, is a coarse tufted perennial that has low nutritive value for grazing stock. It prefers growing in low soil fertility conditions and can limit the productivity of paddocks.
On the demonstration site, one method used to control the Parramatta grass, has been to improve the nutrient status of the soil, spraying out the paddock and resowing with an annual ryegrass in May, followed by sowing millet the paddock during the summer. This has been very successful at this point. A comparison of the pasture composition between 2016 spring and 2017 indicated the percentage of Parramatta Grass in the pasture fell from 38 per cent in 2016 to not being present at all in 2017. Measuring animal performance saw an 88 per cent increase over the same period.
By the end of summer that trial paddock has produced 7.7 t/ha DM of very valuable feed since being sown in May 2017. Another method used was improving the nutrient status of the paddock along with improved grazing and mulching of the Parramatta grass. Again in October the pasture composition saw the percentage of Parramatta grass fall by 10 per cent and an increase in ryegrass and clover. It is now similar to many other paddocks in the region producing very little feed and the Parramatta Grass has gone to seed.
For more information contact John Commins or Keren Walker on 03 51595100.