Promise lies in our paddocks

DPI researcher, Matthew Newell at the Cowra Agricultural Research and Advisory Station.
DPI researcher, Matthew Newell at the Cowra Agricultural Research and Advisory Station.

In the lead up to the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Cowra Agricultural Research and Advisory Station's Open Day on Saturday, September 21, the Cowra Guardian will be showcasing the variety of work taking place at the station.

While they may like look ordinary farm paddocks, there's plenty of integral research being sown and grown at the NSW DPI Cowra Agricultural Research and Advisory Station.

Cowra's Pasture and Cropping team are hard at work with a number of projects on station which aim to of make farming easier, profitable and better for the environment.

DPI researcher, Matthew Newell, said many projects of national significance were underway in collaboration with DPI stations across the state and interstate research organisations.

"One national project, in collaboration with CSIRO, the University of Western Australia and Murdoch University, is exploring new legume-based pastures, including Serradella, which need less phosphorus than traditional subterranean clover based pastures," Mr Newell said.

"We're investigating how these alternative species grow in our soils and environment."

"Another project is developing perennial grain cropping systems. For the last 10,000 years agriculture has relied on annual grain crops... These crops need to be seeded each year and require many inputs to maintain production.

"In comparison, established perennial crops will last for many years with the benefits of soil protection, nutrient retention and weed suppression.

"Perennial grain crops are suited to adaptation for changing climatic conditions and can be grazed by livestock, before and after harvest.

"We are developing perennial grain crops with the goal of delivering varieties which can survive for at least four years."

Mr Newell said work is underway to see if tropical grasses fit in southern areas.

"Right now, tropical grasses are best suited to the north. We are exploring which tropical pasture species could suit the south," he said.

"We expect to see a shorter growing period with more summer storms. Tropical pastures are summer growing plants, which could benefit from the increased number of summer rain events and help fill predicted feed gaps between summer and autumn."

Cropping research at the station contributes to the national variety trials (NVT), delivered by NSW DPI and the Grains and Research Development Corporation.

This is important work for grains and livestock industries as NVT are investigating dual-purpose cereal crops which can be grazed and harvested for grain. Meet the pastures and cropping team at the Open Day.