EASTERN (NSW-Vic Uniform-temperate rainfall zone)
The uniform rainfall zone (URZ): incorporating cropping environments in Central and Southern NSW, and northern Victoria.
The region is characterised by an average annual rainfall of 420-600 mm, which based on monthly averages, is distributed relatively uniformly throughout the year despite large year-to-year variations.
The level of current adoption of perennials, particularly lucerne, in farming systems is moderate with many farmers already understanding the benefits of lucerne to grazing and cropping enterprises. Indeed, records of lucerne growing in the Central west of NSW date as far back as the 1830’s. Critical to lucerne performance is achieving good establishment because the density of lucerne plants during the life of a sward is rarely greater than at establishment. The mixed farming operation faces many challenges in optimising lucerne production and the EverCrop project aimed to assess the challenges and benefits of various aspects of lucerne production in the context of an integrated mixed farming business.
Despite reasonable levels of lucerne adoption across much of this zone, notwithstanding large farm-to-farm variability, there exists significant opportunity to add value to existing enterprises by the incorporation of alternative perennial species. Phalaris and cocksfoot have shown to be the best adapted alternative species, particularly in lower rainfall regions. Their value to existing enterprises will likely increase in the future as cropping-dominated enterprises continue to move towards large paddocks and less intensive grazing regimes, and as competition of annual grass weeds becomes more important. EverCrop has also demonstrated that the perennial grasses improve groundcover compared to lucerne which is important for protecting and building the soil resource.
Nordblom TL, Hutchings TR, Hayes RC, Li GD (2015) A framework for modelling whole-farm financial risk. Selected paper presented at the 59th Australian Agricultural & Resource Economics Society (AARES) Annual Conference, 10-13th February, Rotorua, New Zealand. (opens as a PDF)
Swan AD, Peoples MB, Hayes RC, Li GD, Casburn GR, Dear BS (2014) Farmer experience with establishing pastures under a cover crop. Crop and Pasture Science 65:973-987 http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/CP13448.htm
Li GD, Hayes RC, McCormick JI, Gardner MJ, Sandral GA, Dear BS (2014) Time of sowing and the presence of a cover crop determine the productivity and persistence of perennial pastures in mixed farming systems. Crop and Pasture Science 65:988-1001 http://www.publish.csiro.au/?act=view_file&file_id=CP13447.pdf
Hayes RC, Li GD, Norton MR (2015) Sirolan phalaris and Kasbah cocksfoot prove more persistent than lucerne under drought in a medium rainfall cropping environment. In “Building Productive, Diverse and Sustainable Landscapes” Proceedings of the 17th ASA Conference, 20-24 September, Hobart, Australia. Australian Society of Agronomy www.agronomy2015.com.au
Sandral GA, Swan TD, Li GD, Goward L, Peoples MB, Hayes RC (2015) Alternate row sowing: a novel approach to maintain diversity in mixed pasture swards. In “Building Productive, Diverse and Sustainable Landscapes” Proceedings of the 17th ASA Conference, 20-24 September, Hobart, Australia. Australian Society of Agronomy www.agronomy2015.com.au