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Pasture composition

Composition for optimum production

  • Legume component in pastures as companion to introduced grass species – minimum of 20%, maximum of 30% unless paddock is to be used specifically for high animal production (growth rates), in which case a higher maximum legume content may be desirable (up to 40%). Take precautions to avoid bloat in cattle when legume content is towards maximum limits.
  • Legume content in native pastures – maximum of 20%.
  • Productive and perennial grasses – minimum of 60%, maximum of 80%.
  • Annual grass and broadleaf weeds – maximum of 10%.
  • Bare ground – maximum of 10%.
  • Noxious weeds must not be included in pasture composition.

Number and proportion of desirable perennial grass species

The most appropriate number and relative proportion of desirable perennial grass species within the total perennial grass component of a pasture will vary with the genetic capacity for growth and quality of each species, and the objectives set for that pasture zone. The limits stated below are a guide only:

  • High-input grass-based pastures – maximum limit of two desirable grass species (difficulty of grazing management increases with number of species), with combined minimum composition of 90% of total grass component of pasture mix.
  • General purpose pasture zones (native, introduced or a mix) – minimum of two desirable grass species with the dominant species a maximum of 60% of total desirable grass component.
  • Special purpose pastures – limits will be defined by purpose (e.g. one species, such as tetraploid ryegrass, may be used in a short-term, high‑performance pasture).

Coming up...

MLA’s Feedbase Investment Plan supported research into improving DM measurement using NDVI (normalised difference vegetation index), which involves satellites delivering a map of vegetation. The aim was to offer a tool which overcomes the challenges of traditional dry matter (DM) measurement (time consuming and low accuracy).

The project found:

  • an Android-compatible mobile device application provides a simple tool users can employ to enter NDVI and pasture height values, select a calibration and obtain a reasonably accurate feed estimate
  • NDVI from affordable active optical sensors (AOS) has the potential to provide pasture biomass estimates
  • in many pastures, the inclusion of height measures improves the outcome.

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