Tropicals impress Landcare

In just 120 days since sowing, 5 tonnes to the hectare dry matter standing


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Australian White lambs trail their mothers through tropical pastures at "Oxenthorpe", near Molong, this week. Owner Stephen Leisk is four years into an eight-year conversion of the 160-hectare property using compost applications.

Australian White lambs trail their mothers through tropical pastures at "Oxenthorpe", near Molong, this week. Owner Stephen Leisk is four years into an eight-year conversion of the 160-hectare property using compost applications.

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Four years into an eight-year conversion, a Molong farm is winning with tropical grasses.

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WHEN Little River Landcare Group launched its Organic Matter Matters project last year, Molong's Stephen Leisk, "Oxenthorpe", was held up as an example of what can be achieved.

Members of the group had visited his property in March 2016, when Australian Native Landscapes hosted an open day about the benefits of compost and its application.

When they walked across the same paddock three years later, on April 4, they described the results as "exceptional".

They dug up a shovel full of soil in the paddock that had been treated in 2016 and commented it had changed colour, it was much darker.

Mr Leisk had applied compost and then grew three consecutive crops of oats, diminishing weed seedbanks in preparation for sowing a more permanent pasture.

His first paddock of tropical grasses were sown on November 8, 2017.

Tropicals on "Oxenthorpe" 130 days after sowing show the potential for growth in the heat of summer on marginal rainfall. Converting the 160-hectare property to permanent pasture is four years into an eight-year program.

Tropicals on "Oxenthorpe" 130 days after sowing show the potential for growth in the heat of summer on marginal rainfall. Converting the 160-hectare property to permanent pasture is four years into an eight-year program.

A blend of Gatton Panic, Rhodes grass, Premier digit and Bambatsi, it copped 34 millimetres five days after sowing and another 12mm on November 22.

Then came a downpour of 64mm on December 2, which had the topsoil awash and buried seed three times deeper than the recommended sowing depth.

It is now a successful, mature pasture.

In a paddock sown to tropicals on December 4 last year that had 15mm of rain on January 20, another 15mm on January 22 and 13mm on January 24, this week there was five tonnes to the hectare dry matter standing.

The Little River Landcare crew were impressed with such results within 120 days of sowing.

That paddock was sown with a blend of about 50 per cent Reclaimer Rhodes grass, 16pc Bisset creeping bluegrass, 16pc Premier Digit and 16pc Gatton panic.

Australian White ewes are now in that paddock lambing.

The feed is still more than a metre high in parts of the paddock.

Asked how he found a lamb in that height of grass, Mr Leisk said, "it's been a completely different lambing for us.

"You just walk through, spot a ewe eating then sure enough within a couple of metres there's the lamb.

"They've stayed really close and across much of the paddock you wouldn't know there's been the sort of activity there has for the past six weeks."

The next test, he said, was to see how ewes joined purely on tropicals scan in about three weeks' time.

He said if it doesn't rain he reckons he'll have good feed through to September and if it does he already has oats sown as he gradually converts the rest of "Oxenthorpe" to tropicals.

"I'd always set out to be able to capitalise on summer storms and well, that's all we've had."

Mr Leisk will this month sow clovers into existing tropical pastures, so he has a winter active underlay.

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