Investment into the feedbase
The feedbase – perennial, annual and native pastures and forage and dual-purpose crops – is the powerhouse of Australia’s red meat, dairy and wool industries. MLA’s Feedbase Investment Plan identified a potential gain of $25 million annually in on‑farm returns from improvements in the southern
feedbase. This gain would result from investment in new and existing pastures, better management and utilisation of the feedbase and the delivery of new, high‑performing varieties.
A well-managed feedbase:
- underpins livestock productivity
- provides ground cover for soil protection and moisture retention
- improves long-term soil health
- increases resilience to climatic events
- enhances the ability of other factors in a livestock enterprise to reach optimum levels, such as genetics, animal health, market compliance and reproductive efficiency
- reduces livestock carbon emissions via efficient digestion and faster weight gain and turn-off
- reduces the impact of weed infestation.
Investment in new pastures is driven by the need to improve livestock productivity, lift environmental outcomes, increase climate resilience and, in mixed farming operations, manage long-term paddock rotations.
There are three approaches to deliver an improved feedbase: sowing a pasture in a bare landscape after a cropping phase; removal and replacement of original pasture or renovating existing pastures.
During the decision-making process on how pastures are to be improved, these factors need to be considered:
- why new pastures are needed and what their purpose will be
- whether the required inputs (financial, agronomic, human and machinery) are available
- which pasture types best suit the environment, soil type and livestock production system
- the capacity to utilise and manage pastures once established.
Check out the Pasture Trial Network (PTN) variety selection tool. This MLA-funded and supported online tool allows you to assess and compare the performance of different pasture varieties by region and species, helping to ensure the greatest chance of success with your selection decision for your enterprise mix. Go to tools.mla.com.au/ptn/
Don’t forget to seek advice and support on pasture varieties from local agronomists, agriculture department staff, resellers, seed companies, livestock and animal health advisors and neighbours.