Filling the winter feed gap for livestock is critical for farming systems in the Southern Tablelands region of NSW, a challenge Adrian Keith knows only too well.
As well as being an agricultural advisor, Mr Keith farms with his parents on ‘Glendale’ near Taralga, where they run sheep and cattle on 1400 hectares.
The family also operates a contract hay and silage service through spring and summer.
Mr Keith said ryegrass plays an important role in local pastures for both sheep and cattle, with Knight Italian ryegrass from AusWest Seeds being particularly well suited to producing much needed feed during the colder months.
“As an autumn-sown crop, Knight provides winter feed for lambing ewes and gives pastures a spell when we get very low growth numbers on perennial pastures,” he said.
“The production of Knight Italian ryegrass during autumn-winter is such that I now wouldn’t consider recommending or growing anything else due to its quality.”
Persistence is also a key factor when selecting ryegrass varieties, with Mr Keith observing that Knight holds its quality for a longer period of time compared to other ryegrass varieties.
“We find that an Italian ryegrass like Knight performs better than an annual ryegrass due to increased spring production, as well as showing more persistence going into the second year,” Mr Keith said.
“Where I can use an Italian ryegrass I will, because the quality and the persistence far outweighs the cost, it’s not even worth considering not growing Italian ryegrass in the long run.”
Mr Keith said 18 months to two years is a good result from a stand of Knight, a time frame which brings the added benefit of allowing for a decent pasture renovation.
“Planting Knight gives us a little bit more time to clean paddocks up, so it’s quite flexible,” he said.
“In addition, the subsequent production in spring for our hay and silage business is very favourable as well, allowing us to conserve fodder for our animals to consume the following year.”
Working as an agricultural advisor means Mr Keith keeps a careful watch on the performance of new varieties coming through the system.
“I keep up to date with what’s good and what’s not as far as trial information and what other producers are using, how they’re finding other varieties, and from what I’ve seen year-on-year, and I haven’t seen any that would excel over Knight,” he said.
“To me Knight is reliable, it consistently performs and the benefits of it over an annual ryegrass mean that while it’s still at the top of the game, I don’t see anything taking its place in the next couple of years.”
- Visit: ausweststephenseeds.com.au.