A specialty medic variety blend was used as a break crop and to produce good feed through the season on the property of David Woolford at Kimba, on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia. Mr Woolford planted 60 hectares of the SowSmart Medic Haygraze LR blend in late April by broadcasting seed out and incorporating it in with the prickle chain. The SowSmart Medic Haygraze LR blend is a mix of 4 different species which include Cavalier spineless burr medic, Caliph barrel medic, Silver snail medic and Enduro Balansa clover. “We used a blend because of the different soil types,” Mr Woolford said. “We wanted to mix it up a bit.” Medics have replaced grain legumes in the crop rotation after sheep were re-introduced onto the property after a ten year absence. Higher lamb and wool prices meant that sheep were more viable than in the past and could be utilised as an alternative to cropping. The medic blend germinated with rain in mid-May and was first grazed six weeks later.
Mobs of 200 Merino lambs grazed the paddock at different stages with ewes still taking advantage of the feed well into November. Mr Woolford said the late maturity of the medic blend allowed a feed option right through until stubbles were available after harvest. Cavalier spineless burr medic has a mid maturity and so is substantially later to flower than other options which allowed for more growth in late spring and early summer. The other medic varieties are shorter season and adapt well to low rainfall conditions with good production earlier in the season. SowSmart Medic Haygraze LR can also be used as a hay option if conditions on the season are favourable. The medic paddock will be rotated through to a wheat crop with the nitrogen produced in the season expected to assist the cereal. “We might not need to use a urea-based fertiliser next year,” Mr Woolford said. As well as providing nitrogen to assist future crops, the medic phase has also provided an opportunity for different herbicide options in the rotation. “We are using medic legumes as a cleanup crop and will follow it with two years of wheat.” The success of the medic pasture was greatly assisted by the good conditions of the year with between 15 and 19 inches of rain falling on the property during the season.
David Woolford, Kimba, Eyre Peninsula SA