Product Used: Cavalier Spineless Burr Medic
A blend of legumes and clovers is being used as a crop rotational tool on the property of John Flavell, at Gum Flat, near Cleve, in the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia. Mr Flavell said he farmed 850 hectares of total arable area and dedicated 50 hectares each year to an improved pasture blend made up of medics and clovers. He said the pasture mix was designed for weed control, sheep feed and a cheap source of nitrogen. Each season the mix is made up of Cavalier spineless burr medic, Parabinga medic, Dalsa sub clover and Clare 2 sub clover with a small percentage of Sardi Persian Clover or Bartolo bladder clover.
It is sown through an air seeder at a rate of 6.5 kilograms per hectare with 60 kilograms per hectare of DAP as early in the season as possible following the break with late April an ideal time. Mr Flavell said the blend in 2013 was planted to a weedy paddock and provided an opportunity to control grass weeds with an herbicide application early in the piece. Seasonal conditions were quite favourable and the legume blend reached a height of 30cm before it was grazed by sheep from mid-August. The sheep are divided into approximately320 ewes to a mob. “We were careful that they didn’t bash it down too much but we did get five to six weeks of grazing out of it.” The legume blend was left to pod up towards the end of the season with stock also used to knock it down and help the seed regenerate the following season.
In 2014, the plan is to sow barley in the paddock and allow any residual grass weeds to germinate and then spray it with a grass selective in July or August. After two years of the legume mix, the paddock will be sown to wheat or barley for one or two years and then returned back to the self-sown legume-based pasture. Mr Flavell said different legume options were included in the mix because of the varied soil types across the property and across individual paddocks. “We have variable soil types from white sand to heavy clay,” he said. Seasonal conditions, soil types and insect pressures do have an impact on the success or otherwise of the pasture, but overall the program has been very positive. “Obviously I wouldn’t keep spending considerable amounts of money each year if I wasn’t happy,” Mr Flavell said. The enterprise runs two thirds full blood merino and one third merinos crossed with a Suffolk ram.
John Flavell, Gum Flat, near Cleve, in the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia