Signs pos­i­tive as graze plant trial in WA starts

Great Southern Herald - - News - Shan­non Smith

A first in WA tri­als has be­gun in Many­peaks for a species of bras­sica plant that is ex­pected to pro­vide a new al­ter­na­tive for a mul­ti­ple graze feed crop.

The new species, raphano, is a cross be­tween kale and radish and is the first new species to be cre­ated in more than 30 years.

Still in pre-com­mer­cial stages, it had been tested in the East­ern States over the past three years with im­pres­sive re­sults, PGG Wright­son Seeds Sales agron­o­mist Nathan Tognela said.

“We have to make sure that it will work in dif­fer­ent re­gions and in dif­fer­ent cli­matic cir­cum­stances,” he said.

“Some of the ben­e­fits are in­creased stock­ing rates, it is very high en­ergy, drought-tol­er­ant, it has a very good wa­ter use ef­fi­ciency, as well as be­ing re­sis­tant to clu­b­root and in­sect-tol­er­ant to aphids.

“The drought and wa­ter use ef­fi­ciency are huge things that will help farm­ers in the Great South­ern.”

Many­peaks cat­tle and sheep farmer Tim Met­calfe is one of the first in the State to trial raphano.

Af­ter a tough sea­son feed wise for much of the State, he said if the new species was suc­cess­ful it would make a huge im­pact on the in­dus­try.

“A lot of farm­ers have been ex­tremely short for feed this year — a plant like this could make a whole lot of dif­fer­ence,” he said.

“Hav­ing been sown in the spring and grow­ing over the sum­mer, the plants are al­ready es­tab­lished when the very first rain falls and they will have a head start.

“If it does what they think it can do then it could be­come a handy tool in our busi­ness for fin­ish­ing off live­stock for mar­kets when all the other feed has dried off dur­ing sum­mer.”

The first phase of tri­als in the re­gion went into the ground 12 months ago and nine live­stock graz­ings were suc­cess­ful off the pad­dock through­out win­ter.

Mr Met­calfe’s crop will be sown within the next fort­night and he ex­pects the crop will be pro­duc­tive for the next 12 months.

The pro­gram be­gan in 2002 and if the tri­als are suc­cess­ful in WA, it is ex­pected to be com­mer­cially avail­able within two years.

Pic­ture: Lau­rie Ben­son

Many­peaks farmer Tim Met­calfe.

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