Promising pastures

The use of sown tropical grasses and legumes can significantly increase the productivity of beef growing and breeding enterprises in north Queensland. However, many areas have few or no well-adapted grasses or legumes. Moreover, recently developed cultivars and promising lines have not been comparatively assessed across a range of land types. Over five years beginning in 2013, the project will compare the persistence and productivity, under grazing, of new pasture plants with older cultivars, where present, on a range of soil types and rainfall environments in northern and central Queensland, targeting improved nutrition of younger livestock.

The project will:

  1. Conduct multi-site on-property comparative assessments over five years of promising pasture legumes with older varieties (13 species across 6 genera) and pasture grasses (16 species from 7 genera) for beef breeding and finishing systems in both north Queensland and the eucalypt woodlands of central Queensland.
  2. Report on the establishment, adaptation, acceptability to livestock and seasonal productivity and persistence under grazing of these new legumes and grasses.
  3. Identify the most promising legumes and grasses for increasing productivity and recommend additional research, development and extension activities required to ensure their value for industry is captured.

Progress to date

Nine sites on properties in the Northern and Southern Gulf and Burdekin grazing districts were prepared (fenced and cultivated) for sowing during the 2013–2014 wet season. Replicated small plots of up to 29 legumes and 30 grasses were sown at seven of these between December and March. Plant establishment was measured after maximum emergence. Excellent establishment occurred at five sites, but low (60mm) rainfall resulted in failed establishment at the Richmond site and wash caused by heavy rainfall significantly reduced plant populations at one Georgetown site. First year measurements of plant reproductive development, ‘stay-green’ and wet-season biomass have been completed for all sites and four sites grazed and plant acceptance rated.

When: June 2013 to December 2018

Where: Central and north Queensland

Contact: Kendrick Cox M: 0438 138 262 E:

Collaborators: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Meat & Livestock Australia

RD&E objectives: Enterprise viability; Enterprise sustainability

Industry priorities: Grazing land management; Nutrition and growth

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