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Pasture trials harvest rewards

Western Dairy’s latest independent pasture trials and demonstrations are bigger than ever and helping inform the seed choices of Western Australia’s dairy farmers.

The WA Seed Performance Trial (WASP), Grazing Management Demonstration ‘Goldilocks Grazing’ and the Seed Mix Trial all offer independent analysis of pasture varieties and management techniques tailored specifically to the WA dairy industry, climate and landscape.

In its third year, the WASP ryegrass trial plots have been flourishing at Matt Brett’s Dardanup property on fertile clay loam and at Peter Duggan’s Cowaramup property on loamy sand. Western Dairy has completed harvests of both sites and is currently analysing the dry matter yield.

Farmers, seed suppliers and industry stakeholders took a closer look at the Dardanup WASP plots recently as part of a Western Dairy tour.

Western Dairy dairy pastures research officer Ya-Chun Yu said although the early and mid-season varieties were leading the yield, some late-season varieties were also performing well at this early stage.

“During our unseasonably warm July we experienced higher than average leaf emergence rates. We expect that Spring will deliver some more rain and average temperatures which should slow down growth rates,” Ms Yu explained.

“I am pleased with the progress of the trials to date and look forward to producing results that benefit farmers.”

Dairy farmer and Western Dairy chair Vicki Fitzpatrick said past trial results had helped many WA dairy farmers decide what pasture was best to plant on their farms and feed their herds.

With its lower rainfall and shorter growing season, WA is unique in terms of its seed performance compared to other areas of Australia.

“For many dairy farmers, pasture is a cost-effective and integral component of their feedbase. Getting the seed variety right can be challenging in WA conditions which is why Western Dairy’s trials are so important. They save us time and money,” Mrs Fitzpatrick explained.

The trials of commercially available seeds are designed to produce solid data sets that span multiple years and seasons. The trials are also capable of integrating new products as they enter the market.

Western Dairy’s trial research is supported by Dairy Australia, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Landmark, PGG Wrightson Seeds, Heritage Seeds and Irwin Hunter Seeds.

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