A legume blend of medics and clovers has been introduced to tropical grass pastures to fill the winter feed gap on the Dunbeacon Shorthorn Stud property, in the Upper Horton Valley, in northern New South Wales. Stud owner, Ian McDouall, said they were transitioning some of the native country on the property to tropical grasses that included Gatton Panic, Bambatsi Panic, Premier Digit and Rhodes grass. He said the tropical blends were providing better quality feed and very fast regrowth after rain events, but did tend to shut sown from April through to September. Last season, he decided to put out a mixture of legumes in the form of the Seed Distributors SowSmart Heavy Soils Tropical Legume Oversow Blend. The blend included medics and clovers and was broadcast out from the front of a 35 foot slasher into the tropical grass country, in April of 2012. Eighty kilograms of seed was able to be stored in the spreader, and it was set to send the seed out at a rate of 8 kilograms per hectare as the slasher cut the grasses down and opened the area up.
Mr McDouall said the country was predominantly summer rainfall and often they would enter autumn and winter with a large amount of dry feed. “We are trying to put some quality into the dry feed with the legumes and use them to put some nitrogen in the ground in the spring,” he said. Normally, the grasses are top-dressed with sulphate of ammonia or urea in the spring, so the ability of the legumes to fix nitrogen is certainly an asset. In future years, a disc seeder will also be considered to place the seed directly into the soil and provide better germination results per kilogram planted. Mr McDouall said they had traditionally grown a lot of sub clovers on the property with good success, however the years of dry conditions had depleted the seed bed. Options such as Cavalier spineless burr medic, were prolific setters of seed so could assist in returning a legume to the country on a more permanent basis.
Ian McDouall, of Dunbeacon Shorthorn Stud in the Upper Horton Valley, NSW