Alternative Forage Crops

Resource Developed in 2022

Summer rainfall in the southwest of WA is happening more frequently. One example of this was where over 90mm of rain fell in Manypeaks, for the period from 1st January to 10th March 2021.

There is an opportunity for producers in the south west high rainfall zone (HRZ) to take advantage of summer rainfall events with summer forage crops, but this begs the questions as to what a summer forage can contribute to the farming systems and what species are best suited.

Stirlings to Coast Farmers (SCF) set out to explore these questions with a project specifically looking at Pallaton Raphno, millet, Hyola 970 canola, cowpea and sorghum. In the 2020 season producer demonstration paddocks were sown to Raphno and millet and the findings are presented below.

Benefits from summer crops allow deferred grazing on annual pastures, giving them more time to establish and reach critical biomass before stock graze them, which means more productive annual pastures with more biomass. More feed availability during the autumn feed gap will improve profitability in one of two ways. Firstly, by carrying more livestock and secondly, by having animals ready for the market outside of peak supply times.

For the first year of the project the three trial sites were:

  • Pyle Family (North Manypeaks) – Lambs grazing Pallaton Raphno versus ryegrass re-growth.
  • Smith Family (Green Range) – Lambs grazing millet versus barley stubble
  • Rochester Family (Manypeaks) – Yearling cattle grazing Pallaton Raphno and utilising the Optiweigh system.

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This project is jointly funded through Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund and Stirlings to Coast Farmers.

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