Farm Table says:
What is the problem?
Dual-purpose crops can provide valuable winter forage in livestock production systems and increase subsequent pasture availability. These dual-purpose crops provide valuable winter forage, and with correct grazing management can recover after grazing with little penalty to grain yield. The purpose of the present analysis was to extrapolate the data obtained from the two experimental years reported by Dove (2015) to explore the whole-farm implications of introducing dual-purpose wheat and/or canola into a pasture-based livestock enterprise in those years; hence, only limited climate variability was considered in the analysis.
What did the research involve?
Experimental data were obtained from two seasons of grazing on pastures and dual-purpose crops during winter and spring under four livestock systems. The data were used to estimate whole farm annual livestock grazing potential and changes in farm profitability and productivity. A farm consisting of a livestock enterprise relying on pasture only was compared with scenarios of increasing farm proportions allocated to three dual-purpose crop systems: dual-purpose wheat alone, dual-purpose canola alone, and a 1: 1 combination of wheat and canola.
What were the key findings?
Results show the predicted change in whole-farm SGD per ha obtained when different percentages of a farm are allocated to dual-purpose wheat or canola, or a combination of both. Figure 1 also shows the difference in SGD when the additional pasture spelling was included in these predictions (black lines) and when it was not (grey lines). In 2010, the dual-purpose crops provided more crop grazing and subsequent pasture spelling, which meant their contribution to whole-farm SGD was greater than in the drier the year of 2011. Nonetheless, in both seasons, with up to 25% of farm area allocated to a combination of dual-purpose wheat and canola, it was still possible to achieve a similar number of (or more) SGD per farm ha. Thus, a similar-sized livestock enterprise and whole-farm stocking rate could be maintained even when 25% of pasture land was replaced by dual-purpose crops in these livestock-dominated production systems.
Findings suggest that once whole-farm livestock feed-base effects are considered, large economic and productivity benefits can be attributed to dual-purpose crops when integrated into livestock production systems in Australia’s southern high rainfall zone. Complimentary grazing of dual-purpose wheat and canola could provide large increases in farm profit margin (up to $1500 crop ha–1 ) when sown on up to 15% of the farm. Dual-purpose wheat or canola alone provided smaller but still significant potential increases in whole-farm productivity and estimated profit margin. These benefits were consistent in both the favorable and poor growing seasons analyzed.