Technical annual report 2000-01
Dept. of Regional Development, Primary Industry, Fisheries and Resources technical annual report; Department of Regional Development, Primary Industry, Fisheries and Resources technical and annual report; Reports; PublicationNT; Technical bulletin (Northern Territory. Dept. of Primary Industry and Fisheries) ; no. 295
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Agriculture -- Northern Territory -- Periodicals; Fisheries -- Northern Territory -- Periodicals
Dept. of Primary Industry and Fisheries
Technical bulletin (Northern Territory. Dept. of Primary Industry and Fisheries) ; no. 295
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Technical Annual Report 2000/01 37 SUBPROGRAM: Farming Systems PROJECT: Ley Farming Systems Trial Project Officers: P. Shotton, N. Hill, B. Lemcke, L. Huth and DDRF Staff Location: DDRF Objective: To evaluate a sustainable farming system which integrates pasture, crop and cattle production. Background: An integrated farming system allows flexibility in the use of resources such as machinery and labour, spreads risk for commodity price changes and a crop/pasture rotation provides options for weed control and grazing management. This project incorporates a two-year pasture production phase (either cavalcade only or mixed sabi/cavalcade), grown in rotation with a one-year sorghum crop. In any season, there is a phase with sorghum stubble, a phase of first year newly establishing pasture, and a phase of second year established pasture. Weaners are introduced onto either the improved pasture or the sorghum stubble and weight gains are recorded over the Dry season, aiming to reach a turn-off weight by the Wet season. This grazing management and the crop/pasture rotation influences the plant population dynamics of the paddocks. Vegetation monitoring assesses these changes. In recent years, Wet season utilisation of the mixed pasture paddocks has also been monitored in the belief that significant pasture productivity was being lost due to shading. Shading is likely to increase the proportion of low-quality dry understorey material in the sward saved for Dry season utilisation. The trial evaluates pasture and crop establishment, production and grazing management under no-till farming practices. Method: The 2000/2001 season weaner steers and the 38 smallest of the previous year's group (yearlings) were allocated into their treatment paddocks on 22 June 2000. Cattle were weighed monthly. Phase 1 (paddocks 1-6) stock were grazing sorghum stubble after mixed pasture (paddocks 1-3) and sorghum stubble after cavalcade only (paddocks 4-6). Phase II (paddocks 7-12) stock was introduced to cavalcade only (10-12) and sabi/cavalcade (7-9) second year pastures and destocked in November in readiness for sorghum establishment. Phase III (paddocks 13-18) contained first year self-resown mixed sabi/cavalcade pasture (paddocks 16-18) or cavalcade only (paddocks 13-15) and were stocked until November. Paddock 19 is the yearly-cropped sorghum paddock (half no-till and half under conventional cultivation). Vegetation is assessed twice yearly; May (at the end of the Wet season prior to cattle being introduced) and November (at the start of the Wet season). Botanal is used to record species presence (percentage of weed and desirable species) and yield. Only mixed sabi/cavalcade paddocks are stocked during the Wet season. The final cattle recording was on 28 March 2001 after which all paddocks were rested until the smallest of the previous seasons yearlings were restocked on 21 May 2001. The new batch of weaner steers (exTipperary) was introduced to paddocks on 5 June 2001. Results: Cattle weight gains in the Dry season and Wet season are given in Table 1.