DARGO ANNUAL RYEGRASS, 11 tonnes Silage per ha plus grazing in Western Australia
The key to increasing the energy value of a pasture is a clever fertiliser regime and the right choice of pasture seed, according to beef farmer Sandy Lyon of Willyung Farms north of Albany.
Sandy has trialled a lot of pasture varieties and found that the best pasture for his country is the diploid Dargo annual ryegrass.
His experimentation with nutrition for the Dargo pasture has found that a heavy fertiliser regime is the key to get the most out of the pasture and increase quality. “If we improved the energy provided by the silage by just one mega joule, it the seed and fertiliser costs would pay for itself,” Sandy said.
Sandy’s primary reasons for choosing Dargo rests on its high yield potential, high quality silage and strong regrowth. “It definitely yields more silage than anything else and it has persisted – that’s the main thing.”
“It’s a case of not having to reseed the paddock.” Sandy direct drills the Dargo into a solid base pasture of strawberry clover and perennial ryegrass at a seeding rate of 20kg/ha. “The paddock had been cut for silage years before and then grazed heavily. “Dargo coped well. We seed as early as possible when seeding into existing pasture.”
“Sowing at the right time and getting good establishment is most important.” Sandy runs 450 breeders on his property and has a feed lot as well and relies heavily on his pasture. To increase both pasture yield and quality Sandy gave his whole farm a general fertiliser application of 180kg/ha of 5:1 before seeding. After seeding, the paddock was given a dose of nitrogen at 80kg/ha to get going. Before shutting up the paddock for silage production, the paddock was given another 100kg/ha of nitrogen mixed with 25kg/ha of potash, and then the same again four weeks later.
“I haven’t heard of people doing this nitrogen fertilising twice, but then our yield didn’t drop when everyone else had a drop in yield from 25% to 50% because of the dry finish.”
Sandy cut 11 tonne of silage per hectare over 10 ha.
“We’ve been very happy with that. We haven’t found a pasture variety that does better.” The pasture was grazed on a “three-leaf” grazing pattern and was grazed reasonably hard because it was the best paddock and close to the Lyon home. “It gets a lot of mobs on it.”
He said the roots hold well despite rotary grazing that it times is very hard. “The Dargo persists through some heavy grazing.” The pasture was sprayed twice for red mite but Sandy said the Dargo did not suffer from red mite as much as other pastures.
“We are trying to lift the energy value of our pasture. We haven’t tested that silage yet but Dargo is generally good with an average 10ME and 16 protein.”
Sandy has been happy with the regrowth from the Dargo. “The weaners are back on it now, because the regrowth has been so good,” he said. He said that one paddock has been in Dargo for three years and was going strong for the fourth year.