Legumes worthy of praise
THE beef cattle industry is always on the lookout for suitable legumes to incorporate into sown and native pastures and some new releases are being promoted as productivity improvers.
The presence of legumes in the pasture improves the protein available to animals and also helps to fix nitrogen in the soil, to the benefit of the grass component of the pasture.
Legumes ranging from tropical such as Siratro, Glycines, Stylos, Townsville Lucerne, Wynn Cassia plus others have all been tried and while successful to some extent have had failings.
Graeme Elphinstone, DEEDI, has been a strong and long term advocate for the use of legumes to improve pasture quality.
He said that many graziers will remember the plantings of Cook Stylo made 30 years ago as part of many pasture improvement programs.
"Cook was excellent but developed one failing - it gradually succumbed to anthracnose," he said.
"This was a relation of the fungus that cause havoc in local mango crops most years and an infestation meant that the Cook did not set seed and gradually died out of the pasture due to poor or nil replacements from seed."
Since that time a number of different legumes have been trialed, with Stylos being bred with multi-gene resistance to anthracnose.
These are now being marketed as Beef Builder and Beef Maker.
"Many pastures are suffering serious productivity decline and it is hoped that the two Stylos can help to reverse or at least slow the trend," Mr Elphinstone said.
"The urgency of these measures can be gauged from an estimate of $17 billion of lost production due to pasture decline."
Ross Helmore, Viviana, Kilkivan planted both Stylos in 2009 and is very pleased with the results.
A small area used for producing weaner hay was planted with Rhodes grass, Beef Builder, fine leaved stylo and Wynn Cassia, after deep ripping one round of offsets and then broadcasting seed.
The two new Stylos cost $13.50 per kilogram with sowing rates depending on a number of factors.
For the Wide Bay region Beef Builder flowers about a month before the other, which allows it to grow and set seed well before any frost damage.
Beef Builder has a less erect growth habit than Beef Maker which is probably a little more suited to hay production.