Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Pasture cropping: a new approach to integrate crop and livestock farming systems

G. D. Millar A B and W. B. Badgery A

A New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Orange Agricultural Institute, Forest Road, Orange, NSW 2800, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: geoffrey.millar@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Animal Production Science 49(10) 777-787 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN09017
Submitted: 28 January 2009  Accepted: 22 May 2009   Published: 16 September 2009

Abstract

Pasture cropping is a farmer-initiated concept of sowing a winter active cereal into a summer-active native perennial pasture. Proponents claim that by using pasture cropping they are able to maintain or improve the perennial pasture. Research was carried out on a Bothriochloa macra dominant pasture at Wellington, in the central western slopes of New South Wales, to compare pasture cropping to conventional no-till cropping and pasture only systems under different fertiliser rates and rotations. Key variables for the comparison included forage and crop production, pasture perenniality and ground cover, soil fertility and water use, and profitability. Our results show that pasture cropping can successfully retain perennial grasses and ground cover while still producing profitable cropping and grazing compared with continuous pasture. Crop yields from pasture cropping were less than 65% of those for conventional no-till cropping, which led to conventional no-till cropping having the greatest, but also most volatile, gross margin throughout the experiment. However, the lower input costs associated with pasture cropping reduced the effects of crop failure on farm profit. While soil moisture differences did not occur between treatments during the experiment, soil fertility, especially N, played a major role in determining crop yield. The role of pasture cropping in farming systems is discussed.

Additional keywords: Bothriochloa macra, soil N, soil moisture, wheat.


Acknowledgements

The technical assistance of D. I. Pickering and G. C. Wilson is greatly appreciated. The experimental work was funded by the Central West/Lachlan Grain & Graze program. Grain & Graze (www.grainandgraze.com.au) is a collaborative partnership between the Grains Research and Development Corporation, Meat and Livestock Australia, Australian Wool Innovation Limited and Land & Water Australia. Regional partners in this project include STIPA Native Grasses Association, Central West Conservation Farmers and Central West Farming Systems.


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