Winter Feed Gap Trial

Funding: Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) Producer Demonstration Site

Project Duration: April 2020 – September 2023

Amount: $36,783

PDS Aim: Can foliar pasture applications such as Nitrogen and Gibberellic Acid significantly increase DMP on pastures on two soil types on the Monaro over the winter period to optimize stock production and performance relative to untreated winter pastures?

Severe cold winter temperatures with a high frequency of frosts, lead to low soil temperatures and subsequently restrict pasture growth creating an inhibitive “winter feed gap” on the Monaro from May to September.  This has meant many producers sell crossbred lambs and weaner cattle as stores at significantly reduced GM’s prior to winter rather than opting to finish stock. 

Many producers currently use supplementary feeding over the winter period at a major enterprise cost to maintain stocking rate rather than looking at ways to utilize / enhance the feed base by strategically applying pasture growth stimulants such as gibberellic acid (GA) and nitrogen (N).  Winter stocking rates generally dictate enterprise production capacity over the spring and summer period therefore winter carrying capacities remains a major profit driver for the whole grazing system.

Anecdotal observations suggest the use of GA and N products to optimize dry matter production (DMP) is significantly underutilized in the Monaro grazing Industry compared to other grazing regions.

PDS Objective: Validate and assess the potential to increase DMP by applying granular Nitrogen (N) and Gibberellic Acid (GA) to the following fodder systems;

  1. Perennial Pasture (phalaris)
  2. Ryegrass
  3. Cereal Crop

2023 Update

Overall results from years one and two were inconclusive due to abnormally wet seasonal conditions. As a result, Monaro Farming Systems sought a variation from MLA to duplicate the trial for a further period of one year covering one site only. The site chosen was ‘Woburn’ at Bungarby. Following a series of project meetings including the host participant, the site was refenced and pegged in April 2023.  The project team will monitor the progress closely over the winter and spring period.

The project is tracking well against the contracted agreement.  The PDS is being managed by the Executive Officer and members of the Monaro Farming Systems group, operating out of Bombala office.  There was a slight delay in the second application which occurred on the 12 July 2023, due to independent contractor’s family commitments.

Dry matter has not been calculated at time of writing and will be progressed and presented to the Summer Field Day scheduled for 29th November 2023.  With support from the Southeast Local Lands Service, additional feed soil samples have been taken, which included 36 tests (3 harvests x 12 samples) and will be tested, and the results provided.