Study aims for a sweet spot

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - ROGER HAN­SON

THE dairy in­dus­try is look­ing to boost milk pro­duc­tion with a re­search project us­ing a healthy herb that is like lol­lies for cows.

Re­search by the Tas­ma­nian In­sti­tute of Agri­cul­ture is look­ing at how the in­clu­sion of plan­tain in tra­di­tional rye­grass pas­tures can boost pro­duc­tion and prof­itabil­ity for Tas­ma­nian dairy farm­ers.

Plan­tain is a peren­nial herb that grows year round. It can be used on its own, but most com­monly is sown as part of a mixed pas­ture for graz­ing with po­ten­tial for silage and hay.

TIA dairy re­search fel­low Pi­eter Raedts and PhD can­di­date Adam Lang­wor­thy are lead­ing the re­search and will be work­ing with dairy farm­ers in the North-West and North East with on-farm tri­als set to start in Oc­to­ber.

“Plan­tain is nu­tri­tious, but it is also ex­tremely palat­able. For the cows, it’s like hav­ing lol­lies sprin­kled through the pad­dock and helps to in­crease their con­sump­tion as they eat more pas­ture while search­ing for the plan­tain,” Mr Lang­wor­thy said.

Four Tas­ma­nian dairy busi­nesses are tak­ing part in the on-farm tri­als and about 4.5ha has been set aside at each site for the ex­per­i­ment. A trial site will also be set up at the TIA’s dairy-re­search base at El­liott.

Mr Lang­wor­thy said pre­vi­ous re­search by the TIA into in­clud­ing plan­tain, a for­age herb, in rye­grass pad­docks had found it could boost pas­ture-con­sump­tion rates and lift milk pro­duc­tion.

“We are con­tin­u­ing this by look­ing at how farm­ers can ef­fec­tively in­cor­po­rate plan­tain into their graz­ing prac­tices,” Mr Lang­wor­thy said.

He said said dairy farm­ers were ea­ger to be in­volved.

The plan is to sow dif­fer­ent rates of plan­tain into rye-grass pad­docks and com­pare di­rect-drilling with broad­cast­ing us­ing a fer­tiliser spreader to iden­tify the best method and cov­er­age per hectare.

Mr Lang­wor­thy said the tri­als would be mon­i­tored to com­pare the ef­fi­ciency of the sow­ing meth­ods, the im­pact on plant estab­lish­ment and how much this con­trib­uted to over­all dry mat­ter.

He said the aim was to iden­tify the most ef­fec­tive way to in­cor­po­rate plan­tain into ex­ist­ing rye-grass pas­ture. He said plan­tain re­quired sim­i­lar man­age­ment prac­tices to rye­grass, mak­ing it easy to in­tro­duce into ex­ist­ing op­er­a­tions.

AP­PETITE BOOST: Adam Lang­wor­thy is lead­ing re­search into in­tro­duc­ing highly palat­able plan­tain to rye­grass pas­tures.

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