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Fescue in focus at pasture update

Over 50 people attended the Grasslands Society of NSW Pasture Update on Thursday 13th October in Manildra. The day was a mix of formal presentations and on-farm trial visits. John Coughlan’s farm, near Cudal on the Central Tableland’s, was one of three stops on the afternoon tour.

Mr Coughlan’s paddock of Fescue, Sub-clover and Lucerne prompted a lot of discussion. Keith Garlick, local agronomist at the Rural Centre in Orange, recommended the fescue mix as a good fit in the Cudal mixed farmer’s operation after careful consideration of the paddock’s soil test results.

During the presentations at the Manildra Golf Club in the morning, local agronomist Ross Yelland was also promoting Fescue as a perennial pasture that performs well in some areas. Both Mr Yelland and Mr Coughlan have been impressed with the Winter production capacity of Fescue.

“I believe that the Fine Wool Merinos that I run on this Fescue pasture do better than on my other perennial grass pastures” Mr Coughlan remarked.

Mr Yelland commented that “the main issue you have to consider with Fescue based pastures is the higher management skill required to keep the Fescue vegetative. Obviously Fescue pastures are not a blanket recommendation for all graziers, as they suit higher fertility soils with a higher water holding capacity. Phalaris and Cocksfoot are still the mainstay in our pasture systems and the benchmark for persistence”, added Mr Yelland.

Mr Coughlan’s attitude to Fescue’s downside, being difficult to match supply with demand, was the least of his worries, saying that “well if growing a lot of feed and giving me good ground cover in Summer is the worst it can throw at me, then give it to me any day.”

The traditional rotation of Lucerne and grain crops has transitioned in this area of the slopes. With a larger emphasis on increasing soil carbon during the pasture phase and higher livestock gross margins, producers are introducing perennial grasses to help increase ground cover in the summer months and provide quality feed in the Winter months.

Mr Coughlan’s operation certainly provided a great example of how to adopt new systems that provide consistent cash flow with minimal risk.

Central Tablelands Local Land Services staff can provide independent advice to producers and support adoption of research into improved methods of increasing the triple bottom line.

For more information on Pastures, please call Phil Cranney at the Local Land Services Orange Office on 02 6363 7888 or Clare Edwards at the Mudgee Office on 02 6378 1700.

Media enquiries: Kylie Krause | 0439608370