Growing profit from the ground up

Tonic and lucerne form a winning partnership

Case study: Robert Dunn

Location: Burrumbeet, Victoria

The inclusion of plantain with lucerne provides increased autumn and winter activity when lucerne is predominately dormant.

The inclusion of plantain with lucerne provides increased autumn and winter activity when lucerne is predominately dormant.

Finding the right combination of feed during winter lambing has been a breakthrough for Robert Dunn, Burrumbeet, just west of Ballarat, Victoria.

During spring 2010, Robert sowed 11 hectares of Tonic ‘n’ Lucerne Finisher Blend, a mix of Tonic plantain and Stamina 5 lucerne, following an oat crop.

The varieties of lucerne and plantain established are both grazing-tolerant, which complement each other when planted as the same pasture.

Lucerne has a high nitrogen-fixation ability, providing the nitrogen required for the plantain and increasing the overall quality and productivity of the pasture.

In return,  the plantain provides key minerals, which benefit livestock reducing animal health issues often associated with grazing lucerne.

The inclusion of  plantain with the lucerne also provides increased autumn and winter activity when lucerne is predominately dormant.

“The addition of Tonic plantain with the Stamina 5 lucerne has provided extra high-quality feed during winter when my lambing ewes need it — I start lambing In June.” Robert said. “The Stamina 5 lucerne is slow during this time so the Tonic plantain has been a huge benefit.”

“Both the ewes and their lambs always look bigger and healthier when consuming the mix, with a lot less scouring than mobs grazing straight lucerne stands — you can really can see the difference.”

Since sowing the mixed pasture in 2010 it has persisted well.  Robert is now looking into how he can use the plantain to continue the life of some of the older lucerne stands on his property.

“My agronomist suggested direct drilling Tonic plantain into my older lucerne stands during late winter to increase production and better fit my grazing system,” Robert explained. “This sounds like a great idea and is in my plans for the future.”

Standard practice with old lucerne stands, which have become uneconomical due to lack of plant numbers, is to remove the stand and return to a cropping phase before possibly re-introducing lucerne at a later date.

Adding the recently released plantain to an old lucerne stand can extend the productive life of a pasture for lambing ewes or lamb finishing.

For more information on plantain download the Tonic plantain factsheet from Stephen Pasture Seeds

Contributor: Michael Grant, Western Districts Victoria, Stephen Pasture Seeds