Product Used: Cavalier Spineless Burr Medic
A legume mix that consisted of Cavalier spineless burr medic and AgWest Bartolo bladder clover undersown to wheat has been designed to reduce nitrogen costs in the following canola crop on the property of Brad Claughton, at Yallunda Flat, in the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia. Cavalier and Bartolo were both chosen for their hard seed levels, to ensure the paddock will regenerate to produce good grazing options the following year. Mr Claughton said that during the wheat harvest, seed that was set by the legumes was smashed up and spread out through the back of the header. Although sheep graze the stubbles, there was enough seed set and regrowth from the initial plants to then take advantage of the autumn break in April or May. At the same time, the stand will be oversown with Balansa clover and then utilised through the winter and spring to feed sheep and lambs. Mr Claughton said, while cropping was the major money spinner, it was important to include a pasture phase in the rotation on the property. “In areas in southern Australia, where it is not prime cropping country, you have got to have a mix.” The medic and clover mix will be utilised for two years to feed the range of sheep types on the property.
While most are merino-based, the flock also includes the South African Meat Merino (SAMM) and Suffolk. “We have a diminishing wool clip but lamb production is very good,” Mr Claughton said. He said in the second year of production the sheep will eat the legumes down to virtually nothing and the areas will be spray-topped in readiness for the canola phase. “By loading the paddock up with nitrogen it reduces input costs for canola and increases yield.” The two year pasture phase provides an excellent break for the country and helps with disease and weed control as well as the nitrogen fixation. In 2012 the Cavalier spineless burr medic and Bartolo bladder clover were sown in a skip row formation along with the wheat seed. Mr Claughton said 12 inch row spacings were used, with the legumes planted to every third row. Wheat was still sown at the normal rate of 100 kilograms per hectare and the medic and clovers varied between 2 kilograms per hectare and six kilograms per hectare, with the majority going out at 4 kilograms per hectare. The skip row worked well for establishing the legumes, but did leave gaps in the field which were more prone to weed issues. In the future, the legume will be sown down directly with the wheat for a more consistent paddock coverage.
Brad, Kerrie and Marlin Claughton, at Yallunda Flat, SA