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Simple versus diverse pastures: opportunities and challenges in dairy systems


Pembleton, KG and Tozer, KN and Edwards, GR and Jacobs, JL and Turner, LR, Simple versus diverse pastures: opportunities and challenges in dairy systems, Animal Production Science, 55, (7) pp. 893-901. ISSN 1836-0939 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 CSIRO

DOI: doi:10.1071/AN14816


For Australian and New Zealand dairy farms, the primary source of home-grown feed comes from grazed perennial pastures. The high utilisation of perennial pasture is a key factor in the low cost of production of Australian and New Zealand dairy systems and, hence, in their ability to maintain international competiveness. The major pasture species used are perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) and white clover (Trifolium repens L.), normally grown in a simple binary mixture. As pasture production has been further driven by increasing use of nitrogen fertiliser and irrigation, farms are getting closer to their economic optimum level of pasture utilisation. Increasing inputs and intensification have also increased scrutiny on the environmental footprint of dairy production. Increasing the diversity of pasture species within dairy swards presents opportunities to further increase pasture utilisation through additional forage production, extending the growing season, improving forage nutritive characteristics and, ultimately, increasing milk production per cow and/or per hectare. Diverse pastures also present an opportunity to mitigate some of the environmental consequences associated with intensive pasture-based dairy systems. A consistent finding of experiments investigating diverse pastures is that their benefits are due to the attributes of the additional species, rather than increasing the number of species per se. Therefore, the species that are best suited for inclusion into dairy pastures will be situation specific. Furthermore, the presence of additional species will generally require modification to the management of dairy pastures, particularly around nitrogen fertiliser and grazing, to ensure that the additional species remain productive and persistent.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:forbs, herbs, mixtures, monocultures, niche exploitation
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Crop and pasture production
Research Field:Agronomy
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Pasture, browse and fodder crops
Objective Field:Sown pastures (excl. lucerne)
UTAS Author:Pembleton, KG (Dr Keith Pembleton)
UTAS Author:Turner, LR (Dr Lydia Turner)
ID Code:100020
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:49
Deposited By:Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
Deposited On:2015-04-23
Last Modified:2018-04-12

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