Pasture establishment (renovation) with improved species is a key tool in the pasture management toolbox. The right pasture sown in the right place for the right purpose, under the right management will help optimise enterprise productivity and profitability.
Decision tree for pasture renovation
Assess potential gains from renovation versus other PII toolbox options (e.g. nutrient management, weed control, grazing management etc).
Pasture renovation can increase livestock production, significantly improve groundcover and improve weed control along with a host of other benefits, but it should be a profitable investment. Calculating the potential value of investing in a new pasture is complex. Tools such as the EverGraze Investing in pasture improvement Exchange and Pasture improvement calculator can help with the decision-making process.
Knowing which species suit your soils, topography, management and enterprise needs is critical when selecting a suitable pasture for renovation purposes.
Also consider the impact of a new pasture species on strategic changes to the enterprise setup and infrastructure; remembering the tactical management needed to maximise your return on investment. For example, to maximise the return from investing in lucerne, strategic changes can include a later lambing time, higher stocking rates and additional fencing for rotational grazing to ensure persistence. Tactical decisions may include whether to graze the additional green feed with ewes or lambs given current season and market conditions.
The EverGraze Selecting pastures for place and purpose online exchange can walk you through the species selection process.
Pasture renovation is expensive and requires considerable planning and preparation to gain the maximum benefit. Preparation needs to start at least one full year before the seed is actually sown.
Prepare the paddock at least one year (and preferably two years) before sowing with winter cleaning, spray-topping or an annual ‘clean-up’ crop. Control weeds and insect pests before and after sowing. Plant with the right equipment at the right time to maximise successful establishment.
DPI Victoria has developed a guide to pasture establishment to help you prepare your paddocks to optimise the success of your new pastures. The principles for establishing pastures are the same whether they are perennial or annual pastures.
When you have invested in a new pasture, it is essential to manage it appropriately to maximise productivity and persistence for the life of the pasture to ensure the optimal return on investment.
Aim to maintain >800kg DM/ha and >70% groundcover at all times through strategic grazing management. Target grazing managment to increase desirable species and reduce undesirable species. Provide sufficient rest for temperate perennials to recover after grazing and maintain soil fertility for maximum production and persistence (monitor with soil testing).
Check out the resources in the rest of the PII Toolbox (grazing management, pasture nutrition, weed control, pest management) to ensure you manage your pastures effectively.
Additional pasture renovation resources
More information on pasture renovation, species selection, pasture establishment and management can be found on the Heritage Seeds Productivity Toolbox web pages.
PGG Wrightson Seeds has developed a step-by-step Programmed approach to pasture renewal, which can be found on their website.
The latest edition of the Australian Seed Federation (ASF) Pasture Seed Product database is now available on the ASF website. The database offers livestock producers, their advisors and the pasture supply chain a comprehensive, easy-to-access tool when it comes to selecting the right pasture, for the right place and purpose.
The Pasture Improvement Initiative continues to work with its collaborating stakeholders to develop a range of easy-to-read factsheets that cover a range of pasture-related topics.
Please feel free to download and distribute anything that takes your fancy.
Know before you sow
New pastures are critical for increasing farm productivity. Not only can new they support higher stocking rates (and kilograms of product per hectare), but they provide insurance when times get tough, through improved persistence and dry matter production compared with older pasture varieties.
Before establishing a new pasture it is critical to have a solid understanding of the environment in which your pasture will grow, the requirements of the enterprise it will support and its fit within the whole farming system.
Together with the Australian Seed Federation, the PII has developed an easy-to-read factsheet that outlines the key considerations when selecting a suitable pasture species for your farming system. It also outlines the difference between ‘variety’ and ‘brand’ and explains why it is important to purchase quality seed form a reputable supplier.
Download the Know before you sow factsheet here (PDF 1.1MB)
Pasture seed — why quality matters
A new pasture will only be as good as the seed it was sown with. Make sure your pasture gets the best start with high-quality certified seed from a reputable seed supplier.
Together with the Australian Seed Federation, the PII has developed an easy-to-read factsheet that outlines the key considerations when purchasing pasture seed.
Download the Pasture seed — why quality matters factsheet here (PDF 1MB)
Plant breeder’s rights — what does PBR really mean?
Plant Breeder’s Rights (PBR) are used to protect new varieties of plants that are distinct, uniform and stable. A PBR is legally enforceable and gives the owner, exclusive rights to commercially use, sell, direct the production, sale and distribution of, and receive royalties from the sale of plants. If you breach the PBR, the PBR grantee can initiate legal action seeking damages or an account of profits.
Together with the Australian Seed Federation, the PII has developed an easy-to-read factsheet that outlines what PBR really means for your situation.
Download the Plant breeder’s rights — what does PBR really mean? factsheet here (PDF 680KB)
Effective legume inoculation
Inoculating pasture legumes with rhizobia (root nodule bacteria) is standard practice for many growers, but a national survey carried out during 2013 highlighted several opportunities for growers to maximise the potential benefits by following practical guidelines to optimise the delivery of rhizobia.
This fact sheet highlights the key principles of effective inoculation and provides rules of thumb regarding when to inoculate and when ‘not’ to inoculate your legume pastures.
Together with researchers from the University of Adelaide and SARDI, the PII has developed an easy-to-read factsheet that outlines the key principles of effective legume inoculation really means for your situation.
Download the Maximising nitrogen benefits from legumes with better inoculation factsheet here (PDF 1.5MB )