Lift productivity by diversifying pastures with high-performing herbs
Editorial written by AusWest SPS for the Summer 2020/2021 Seasons Magazine
Achieve better results from your next new pasture investment by including Choice chicory and Ecotain® environmental plantain in your seed mix.
There are three key benefits to growing Choice chicory and Ecotain environmental plantain, according to Hamish Best, national product development manager for AusWest Seeds, Stephen Pasture Seeds and Agricom.
“First, these high-performing perennial herbs allow farmers to extend their growing season, because they kick off earlier in autumn and continue to produce feed through late spring and early summer,” he said.
“Secondly, they produce a high quality, highly digestible forage, which gives improved livestock health, faster liveweight gains and more milk in the vat.
“They are also strong perennial varieties which persist well in the paddock to give farmers a longer lasting pasture.”
He described Choice chicory as a benchmark feed for summer weight gains.
Choice was developed to persist in perennial pastures and has also been proven to increase milk production when offered as part of a summer diet. It has a deep tap root and wide leaves.
“Both Choice and Ecotain encourage higher animal performance because they are digested twice as quickly as ryegrass,” Mr Best said.
“This means animals can spend more time eating and will gain energy and protein more easily from the pasture, delivering more milk in the vat and faster weight gains.”
Ecotain environmental plantain has broad leaves for maximum intake per bite, improved palatability, high digestibility and elevated levels of minerals compared with grasses.
As a winter-active herb, Mr Best said Ecotain could be particularly valuable for providing a high-quality forage for lambing ewes and increasing lamb weaning weights.
Ecotain is best grown where the annual rainfall is at least 600 millimetres and is bred to persist well through hot summers and wet winters.
Great results in the field
Elders Beaudesert agronomist Brendan Magee regularly recommends Choice and Ecotain in pasture mixes with Atom prairie grass and has seen good results over several years.
“In my area, many dairy farmers and beef producers are looking for alternatives to annual pastures that are more sustainable and regenerative,” he said.
“Although the establishment costs are higher than for annual ryegrass, the difference is they stay in the ground for four to five years and that’s better for soil health.”
Mr Magee said growing Choice and Ecotain in the pasture mix improved the quality of feed on offer.
“Chicory and plantain give a high protein, better quality feed – much higher than grasses,” he said.
“They can be ugly paddocks to look at, but the cattle are fat and the milk numbers are great and that’s what matters!”
He said the deep tap root of Choice chicory helped bring up moisture from lower in the profile, which was particularly important through the hot, dry conditions last year.
One other advantage Mr Magee noted was their ‘sensational’ post-grazing regrowth.
He noted that while weed control options were limited, some new chemical registrations were emerging.
Mr Magee is supported by local AusWest Seeds business manager, Peter Tame and orders his blends from the company’s Brisbane facility.
“AusWest Seeds is a trusted supplier and easy to work with when you’re looking for a pasture mix with a lot of diversity and excellent performance,” he said.
Choice chicory and Ecotain environmental plantain are available from your nearest Elders store. Contact your local representative for detailed information on pasture mixes and seeding recommendations.
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