Farm Table says:
Dual-purpose crops can provide valuable winter forage in livestock production systems and increase
subsequent pasture availability.
What is the problem?
Dual-purpose cereals are now widely used in many parts of southern Australia, and the potential for dual-purpose canola has been identified.
The high-rainfall zone of south-eastern Australia has traditionally been dominated by livestock production on perennial pastures, but increasingly, cropping with long-season dual-purpose varieties is entering these production systems.
These dual-purpose crops provide valuable winter forage, and with correct grazing management can recover after grazing with little penalty to grain yield.
What did the research involve?
Experimental data was obtained from two seasons of grazing on pastures and dual-purpose crops during winter and spring under four livestock systems.
The data was 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?
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 favourable and poor growing seasons analysed.
While the amount of grazing of dual-purpose crops may be less in dry years, the value of this forage is higher in these years.