Theme 3: Livestock--Oral Sessions

Description

The project “New pastures to increase livestock productivity across the north” is a four year project with a focus on the pasture legume Progardes® Desmanthus. The project explores: methodologies of legume establishment in grass pastures; the antimethanogenic properties of Desmanthus; botanical composition; soil sciences; and pasture nutritive value as related to beef production and meat sciences. Northern Australia has a substantial beef industry based predominantly on poor quality native grass pasture in a semiarid tropical environment with highly variable rainfall. This region also has very extensive areas of Vertosol soils with few, if any, well adapted sown pasture legumes. Progardes® (a blend of selected Desmanthus cultivars) has shown potential in these environments. The introduction of an adapted, high quality, grazing tolerant legume will bring livestock productivity and environmental gains to the region. Early results indicate establishment success of Progardes® has varied depending on establishment method, grass competition and rainfall; Two cultivars have reduced methane production by 10% compared to Rhodes grass in metabolic chambers; the role of tannins in the antimethanogenic properties of Desmanthus is under evaluation; a number of new accessions of Desmanthus show agronomic promise; grazing of commercial paired paddocks with and without Progardes has commenced with steer live weight gains at one site being an additional 0.173kg/hd/day live weight gain with the legume, compared to the grass only pasture; botanical composition via the BOTANAL methodology shows the paddocks contain 8 to 12% Progardes® by weight in the legume paddocks. Preliminary plant nutrition omissions trials indicate Progardes is responsive to P fertilisation on soils containing < 9 mg of bicarbonate-extractable P/kg, with Zn, S and Fe supplementation also benefitting growth on some high-pH soils.

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Progardes® Desmanthus: Good for Beef, Good for the Environment

The project “New pastures to increase livestock productivity across the north” is a four year project with a focus on the pasture legume Progardes® Desmanthus. The project explores: methodologies of legume establishment in grass pastures; the antimethanogenic properties of Desmanthus; botanical composition; soil sciences; and pasture nutritive value as related to beef production and meat sciences. Northern Australia has a substantial beef industry based predominantly on poor quality native grass pasture in a semiarid tropical environment with highly variable rainfall. This region also has very extensive areas of Vertosol soils with few, if any, well adapted sown pasture legumes. Progardes® (a blend of selected Desmanthus cultivars) has shown potential in these environments. The introduction of an adapted, high quality, grazing tolerant legume will bring livestock productivity and environmental gains to the region. Early results indicate establishment success of Progardes® has varied depending on establishment method, grass competition and rainfall; Two cultivars have reduced methane production by 10% compared to Rhodes grass in metabolic chambers; the role of tannins in the antimethanogenic properties of Desmanthus is under evaluation; a number of new accessions of Desmanthus show agronomic promise; grazing of commercial paired paddocks with and without Progardes has commenced with steer live weight gains at one site being an additional 0.173kg/hd/day live weight gain with the legume, compared to the grass only pasture; botanical composition via the BOTANAL methodology shows the paddocks contain 8 to 12% Progardes® by weight in the legume paddocks. Preliminary plant nutrition omissions trials indicate Progardes is responsive to P fertilisation on soils containing < 9 mg of bicarbonate-extractable P/kg, with Zn, S and Fe supplementation also benefitting growth on some high-pH soils.