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Perennial grasses of Mediterranean origin offer advantages for central western Victorian sheep pasture

M. W. Anderson, P. J. Cunningham, K. F. M. Reed and A. Byron

Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 39(3) 275 - 284
Published: 1999


Perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, cocksfoot and phalaris were evaluated under a rotational grazing regime in the 600 mm rainfall region of western Victoria. Over 4 years, seasonal dry matter production, persistence and nutritive value were assessed. Several selected lines and commercial cultivars were compared.

Melik selection tall fescue and Sirosa phalaris significantly (P<0.05) out-yielded all other cultivars and demonstrated outstanding winter productivity, and ability to survive drought. In terms of production of digestible dry matter, Sirosa phalaris and Melik selection tall fescue were significantly greater than other cultivars of the same species. Plant numbers declined considerably during the trial. Sirosa and Australian phalaris and Currie cocksfoot were the most persistent lines at the end of the 4 year study. The most persistent perennial ryegrass and tall fescue lines after 4 years were Medea selection and Melik selection respectively. Over 3 years, Sirosa phalaris consistently out-yielded Australian phalaris in winter by 95% (P<0.05). Melik selection tall fescue matched Sirosa’s winter yield (about 2.2 t DM/ha) and out-yielded Demeter and AU Triumph in winter by 216% (P<0.05).

The benefits of Mediterranean genotypes of perennial grasses for improving winter yield and plant longevity is discussed in relation to the need to maximise pasture productivity and improve pasture longevity in environments with a short growing season.

© CSIRO 1999

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