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Hamilton, Australia

McCaskill M.R.,Jobs | Kearney G.A.,36 Paynes Road
Crop and Pasture Science | Year: 2016

Temperate pastures that leak water below the root zone have been linked to an increase in dryland salinity in southern Australia through their conservative use of stored water. An experiment was conducted at Hamilton in south-western Victoria to test the hypothesis that deep-rooted, summer-active perennial pasture species can substantially reduce leakage. On topographic crests the experiment compared lucerne and chicory with a traditional perennial ryegrass variety with low summer activity, whereas on the poorly drained valleys the comparison was between tall fescue, kikuyu and a perennial ryegrass variety with high summer activity. Lucerne developed a buffer of dry soil to a depth of at least 5m. An empirical relationship with June-September rainfall indicated that with this dry buffer, leakage below the root zone would not occur even in the wettest of years. Chicory developed a dry buffer to the depth of measurement (3m), but plant density gradually declined and leakage started to occur 5 years after sowing. The perennial ryegrass with low summer activity had leakage nearly every year. On the valleys kikuyu was initially the most effective at drying the soil in summer, but its density declined at the expense of annuals and 3 years after sowing it became wetter than the other treatments. None of the pasture options on the valley fully controlled leakage, but both the summer-active perennial ryegrass and tall fescue were persistent and there was little difference in their capacity to extract summer moisture. This study showed that four characteristics were associated with a pasture that controlled leakage - summer activity, persistence, adequate density and deep rootedness. Of the species tested only lucerne satisfied all these criteria. © CSIRO 2016.

Riffkin P.,DPI Victoria | Potter T.,SARDI Aquatic Sciences Center | Kearney G.,36 Paynes Road
Crop and Pasture Science | Year: 2012

Area and production of canola (Brassica napus L.) in the High Rainfall Zone (HRZ) of southern Australia has increased significantly over the past decade. Varieties available to growers have not been bred specifically for the HRZ and are generally adapted to the drier regions of the cropping belt. Field experiments were conducted at Hamilton in south-west Victoria in 2005, 2006 and 2008 to identify canola traits and management suited to the HRZ of southern Australia. Nine varieties with different reported maturities (winter and spring types) were sown at either two times of sowing and/or under different nitrogen (N) fertiliser regimes. Dates of key phenological development were recorded, dry matter was determined at bud, flowering and maturity and grain yield and yield components were determined at harvest. Plant traits and climate data were assessed in relation to grain yield. Yields of the winter types were either significantly (P0.05) greater or not significantly less than the spring types in all 3 years and similar to those reported under experimental conditions in Europe. This was despite the winter types flowering up to 35 days later than the spring types and spring rainfall being approximately half that of the long-term average. In general, the winter types had greater early vigour, greater dry matter production at the bud, flowering and maturity stages and were taller than the spring types. Regression analysis showed positive relationships between grain yield and pod density and plant size (dry matter and plant height). Plant size was influenced by variety, time of sowing and N fertiliser application rates. Crops in the HRZ were able to sustain more seeds per pod at larger canopy sizes and pod densities than those achieved in the northern hemisphere. Despite the number of pods per g of dry matter at flowering being nearly double that reported in the UK, there was little apparent reduction in the number of seeds per pod. It is possible that higher solar radiation and warmer minimum temperatures in the HRZ of Australia provide conditions more favourable for growth before, and during grainfill. This indicates that different dry matter production and yield component targets may be appropriate for canola in this environment especially in more typical seasons. It is likely that growers will need to sow new, later maturing varieties earlier and with higher rates of N fertiliser than is current practice in Australia. This study indicates that winter types may have the potential to provide improvements to the yield of canola in the HRZ either through the direct importation of varieties from overseas or through the identification and incorporation of desired traits into existing material. It is recommended that a wider range of germplasm be assessed over a greater geographical area to identify traits and management practices to optimise phenology and canopy structure. This information can be used to help inform breeders on crop improvement priorities as well providing tailored management practices to maximise grain yields for this environment. © 2012 CSIRO.

Hughes J.M.,CSIRO | McPhail N.G.,CSIRO | Kearney G.,36 Paynes Road | Clarke F.,Griffith University | And 2 more authors.
Animal Production Science | Year: 2015

Optimal beef meat colour is associated with increased consumer acceptance, whereas dark or pale meat has a reduced desirability. Dark beef also has a variable eating quality and reduced shelf-life. We hypothesised that a poor meat colour at carcass grading would generate an unacceptable eating quality after vacuum-packed chilled storage for up to 20 weeks, due to the unfavourable pH conditions commonly associated with light and dark muscles. At three beef processing plants, beef longissimus muscles from 81 pasture-and grain-fed cattle (mix of Bos taurus and Bos indicus × Bos taurus) were graded at ∼24 h post-slaughter for meat colour. The carcasses were allocated to light, medium and dark colour groups, with n ≤ 27 carcasses per colour group. From the 81 carcasses, a total of 162 longissimus lumborum (LL) muscles was collected and half LLs were randomly allocated to three ageing times (2, 12, 20 weeks) within colour group and six half LLs were used per colour group within storage period and plant. Vacuum-packed muscles were stored at-1.0 ± 0.5°C for the designated period and sampled for biochemical and sensory assessments. The effects of colour group, storage week and carcass traits were analysed. Dark muscles had higher pH than the lighter ones (P < 0.05). The carcass trait dentition, feed type and fat depth did not influence the eating quality (P > 0.05). After 2, 12 and 20 weeks of vacuum-packed chilled storage; eating quality was similar for all 3 meat-colour groups (P > 0.05). With increasing storage time, all eating-quality attributes improved (P < 0.001 for all). Lipid oxidation increased with storage time and although values at 20 weeks were slightly above accepted levels for rancidity detection, MQ4 scores indicated that the meat would still be categorised as a three-star product, indicative of the opportunity to store the longissimus lumborum (LL) for this length of time, while maintaining an acceptable eating quality, regardless of meat colour at carcass grading. © 2015 CSIRO.

Officer S.J.,Jobs | Phillips F.,University of Wollongong | Kearney G.,36 Paynes Road | Armstrong R.,Jobs | And 3 more authors.
Soil Research | Year: 2015

Although large areas of semi-arid land are extensively cropped, few studies have investigated the effect of nitrogen (N) fertiliser on nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions in these regions (Galbally et al. 2010). These emissions need to be measured in order to estimate N losses and calculate national greenhouse gas inventories. We examined the effect of different agronomic management practices applied to wheat (Triticum aestivum) grown on an alkaline Vertosol in south-eastern Australia on N2O emissions. In 2007, N2O emissions were measured over 12 months, during which N fertiliser (urea) was applied at sowing or N fertiliser plus supplementary irrigation (50mm) was applied during the vegetative stage and compared with a treatment of no N fertiliser or irrigation. In a second experiment (2008), the effect of source of N on N2O emissions was examined. Wheat was grown on plots where either a pulse (field peas, Pisum sativum) or pasture legume (barrel medic, Medicago truncatula) crop had been sown in the previous season compared with a non-legume crop (canola, Brassica napus). To account for the N supplied by the legume phase, N fertiliser (50kgNha-1 as urea) was applied only to the wheat in the plots previously sown to canola. Fluxes of N2O were measured on a sub-daily basis (up to 16 measurements per chamber) by using automated chamber enclosures and a tuneable diode laser, and treatment differences were evaluated by a linear mixed model including cubic smoothing splines. Fluxes were low and highly variable, ranging from -3 to 28ng N2O-Nm-2s-1. The application of N fertiliser at sowing increased N2O emissions for ∼2 months after the fertiliser was applied. Applying irrigation (50mm) during the vegetative growth stage produced a temporary (∼1-week) but non-significant increase in N2O emissions compared with plots that received N fertiliser at sowing but were not irrigated. Including a legume in the rotation significantly increased soil inorganic N at sowing of the following wheat crop by 38kgNha-1 (field peas) or 57kgha-1 (barrel medic) compared with a canola crop. However, N2O emissions were greater in wheat plots where N fertiliser was applied than where wheat was sown into legume plots where no N fertiliser was applied. Over the 2 years of the field study, N2O emissions attributed to fertiliser ranged from 41 to 111g N2O-Nha-1, and averaged of 75g N2O-Nha-1 or 0.15% of the applied N fertiliser. Our findings confirm that the proportion of N fertiliser emitted as N2O from rainfed grain crops grown in Australian semi-arid regions is less than the international average of 1.0%. © CSIRO 2015.

Warner R.D.,CSIRO | Dunshea F.R.,University of Melbourne | Gutzke D.,Meat and Livestock Australia | Lau J.,Meat and Livestock Australia | Kearney G.,36 Paynes Road
Animal Production Science | Year: 2014

Beef carcasses undergoing rapid pH fall while the loin muscle temperature is still high are described as heat-shortened, heat-toughened or 'high rigor temperature' carcasses, with subsequent negative effects on quality traits. The aim of the study was to quantify the occurrence of high rigor temperature in beef carcasses across Australia and to identify the causative factors. Data was collected over 4-5 days at each of seven beef processing plants from 1512 beef carcasses. The beef carcasses were from both grass-and grain-fed cattle ranging in days on grain feeding from 0 (grass-fed) to 350 days and the category of cattle ranged from veal to ox and cow. Data collected on the day of slaughter included the duration of electrical inputs at the immobiliser, electrical stimulation and hide puller, longissimus muscle pH and temperature decline, hot carcass weight and P8 fat depth. At grading, ultimate pH, eye muscle area, wetness of the loin surface and colour score were also collected. The temperature at pH 6 was calculated and if it was >35°C, the carcass was defined as 'high rigor temperature'. Modelling of the data was conducted using GLMM and REML. The occurrence of high rigor temperature across all seven beef processing plants was 74.6% ranging from 56 to 94% between beef processing plants. Increasing days in the feedlot and heavier carcass weights were highly correlated and both caused an increase in the predicted temperature at pH 6 and in the % high rigor temperature (P < 0.05 for both). Longer duration of electrical inputs at the hide puller, fatter grass-fed cattle and fatter male (castrate) carcasses had a higher temperature at pH 6 and higher % high rigor temperature. Modelling showed that if the time to reach pH 6 in the longissimus muscle was 65 v. 105 min, the % high rigor temperature carcasses reduced from 98 to 19% in grain-fed cattle and 93 to 7% in grass-fed cattle. Higher plasma insulin levels at slaughter were associated with a higher temperature at pH 6 (rigor temperature) (P < 0.001). In conclusion, in order to reduce the incidence of high rigor temperature in grain-fed beef carcasses, methods for identifying high rigor temperature carcasses will be required and while some management strategies can be implemented now, others require further research. © 2014 CSIRO.

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