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Rockhampton, Australia

Orr D.M.,Economic Development and Innovation | Orr D.M.,Rockhampton Mail Center
Tropical Grasslands | Year: 2010

The impacts of 4 grazing strategies (year-long grazing, summer grazing, winter grazing and winter grazing plus spring burning) on the grass:legume balance were studied between 2000 and 2006 in a pasture oversown with Stylosanthes scabra cv. Seca (Seca stylo) in central Queensland. Seasonal rainfall throughout the study was generally below average. Total pasture yields in autumn were higher in the 2 winter grazing than the 2 summer grazing treatments, largely reflecting the sampling time relative to when grazing occurred. There were few differences in Seca composition in autumn, although there was a clear trend for Seca composition to be reduced by winter grazing plus burning. Both the frequency of occurrence and plant density of Seca were higher under the 2 summer grazing treatments and there was also a trend for the density of juvenile plants (<5 cm height) to be higher in the 2 summer grazing treatments. Seca soil seed banks were generally low and were reduced in the winter grazing plus burning treatment in spring 2002. The frequency of the palatable perennial grass Pennisetum ciliaris (Biloela buffel grass) was reduced while that of the 'increaser' species Bothriochloa pertusa (Indian couch grass) and Stachytarpheta jamaicensis (snake weed) increased in the 2 summer grazing treatments compared with the 2 winter grazing treatments. Burning in spring increased soil loss in treatments grazed in winter. Differences in Seca frequency and density but not composition were explained by the 2 summer grazing treatments promoting 'gaps' in the pasture which were then colonised by Seca plants and other 'increaser' species. It was reasoned that, with time, mature Seca plants in the 2 winter grazing treatments would die so that Seca composition would eventually become higher under summer grazing regimes than under winter grazing. It was concluded that limiting grazing to particular seasons can alter legume:grass balance and that a time-frame of 5-8 years with average to good rainfall would be necessary to achieve large shifts in composition. Source


Orr D.M.,Rockhampton Mail Center | Yee M.C.,Rockhampton Mail Center | Rutherford M.T.,Rockhampton Mail Center | Paton C.J.,Economic Development and Innovation
Crop and Pasture Science | Year: 2010

The dynamics of Heteropogon contortus and Stylosanthes scabra cv. Seca populations were studied in a subset of treatments in an extensive grazing study conducted in central Queensland between 1988 and 2001. These treatments were 4 stocking rates in native pasture and 2 of these stocking rates in legume oversown and supplement/spring burning treatments. For the 1999-2000 summer, population data for H. contortus in 5 of these native pasture and supplement/burning treatments were compared with those for an additional burnt treatment. Seasonal rainfall throughout this study was below the long-term mean and mean annual pasture utilisation ranged from 24 to 61%. Increasing stocking rate from 5 to 2ha/steer in native pasture reduced H. contortus plant density. Increasing stocking rate reduced seedling recruitment as a result of its effect on soil seedbanks. Seedling recruitment was the major determinant of change in plant density, although some individual H. contortus plants did survive throughout the study. Burning in spring 1999, particularly at light stocking rate, promoted seedling recruitment above that in both unburnt native and legume oversown pasture and resulted in increased H. contortus plant density. In the legume oversown treatments, S. scabra cv. Seca density increased rapidly from 15 plants/m2 in 1988 to 140 plants/m2 in 2001 following a lag phase between 1988 and 1993. This increased S. scabra density was associated with an eventual decline in H. contortus plant density through reduced seedling recruitment. It was concluded that H. contortus population density is sustainable at stocking rates of 4 and 5ha/steer (30% pasture utilisation) and that spring burning at light stocking rate can promote H. contortus populations. Increasing densities of S. scabra need to be managed to prevent its dominance. © 2010 CSIRO. Source


Hendricksen R.E.,Rockhampton Mail Center | Myles D.J.,Rockhampton Mail Center | Reid D.J.,Rockhampton Mail Center | Orr D.M.,Rockhampton Mail Center
Animal Production Science | Year: 2010

The diet selected in autumn by steers fistulated at the oesophageous was studied in a subset of treatments in an extensive grazing study conducted in a Heteropogon contortus pasture in central Queensland between 1988 and 2001. These treatments were a factorial array of three stocking rates (4, 3 and 2 ha/steer) and three pasture types (native pasture, legume-oversown native pasture and animal diet supplement/spring-burning native pasture). Seasonal rainfall throughout this study was below the long-term mean and mean annual pasture utilisation ranged from 30 to 61%. Steers consistently selected H. contortus with levels decreasing from 47 to 18% of the diet as stocking rate increased from 4 ha/steer to 2 ha/steer. Stylosanthes scabra cv. Seca was always selected in legume-oversown pastures with diet composition varying from 35 to 66% despite its plant density increasing from 7 to 65 plants/m2 and pasture composition from 20 to 50%. Steers also selected a diet containing Chrysopogon fallax, forbs and sedges in higher proportions than they were present in the pasture. Greater availability of the intermediate grasses Chloris divaricata and Eragrostis spp. was associated with increased stocking rates. Bothriochloa bladhii was seldom selected in the diet, especially when other palatable species were present in the pasture, despite B. bladhii often being the major contributor to total pasture yield. It was concluded that a stocking rate of 4 ha/steer will maintain the availability of H. contortus in the pasture. © 2010 CSIRO. Source


Orr D.M.,Rockhampton Mail Center | Burrows W.H.,Rockhampton Mail Center | Hendricksen R.E.,Rockhampton Mail Center | Clem R.L.,Economic Development and Innovation | And 4 more authors.
Crop and Pasture Science | Year: 2010

An extensive grazing study was conducted between 1988 and 2001 in a Heteropogon contortus (black speargrass) pasture in central Queensland. The study was designed to measure the effects of stocking rate on native pasture, native pasture with legume oversown, and native pasture with animal diet supplement/spring burning on pasture and animal production. Summer rainfall throughout the study was below the long-term mean. Mean annual pasture utilisation ranged from 13% at 8ha/steer up to 61% at 2ha/steer. Increasing stocking rate treatments reduced total pasture yields while total yields in legume oversown treatments were similar to those in native pasture at the same stocking rate. When spring burning was possible, total yields were reduced in the subsequent autumn. Increasing stocking rate in native pasture tended to reduce H. contortus and Bothriochloa bladhii, increased the composition of intermediate species, such as B. decipiens and Chloris divaricata, and also changed the frequencies of a range of minor species. Oversowing legumes resulted in Stylosanthes scabra cv. Seca increasing from 1% of pasture composition in 1988 to 50% in 2000 and was associated with a reduction in H. contortus and changes in the frequencies of some minor species. Stocking rates heavier than 4ha/steer resulted in annual pasture utilisation greater than 30% and were unsustainable because they reduced total yield and resulted in undesirable changes in species composition. It was concluded that pasture production was sustainable when stocking rates were maintained at 4ha/steer, which equates to 30% annual pasture utilisation, and through the judicious use of spring burning. © CSIRO 2010. Source


Burrows W.H.,Rockhampton Mail Center | Orr D.M.,Rockhampton Mail Center | Hendricksen R.E.,Rockhampton Mail Center | Rutherford M.T.,Rockhampton Mail Center | And 3 more authors.
Animal Production Science | Year: 2010

Steer liveweight gains were measured in an extensive grazing study conducted in a Heteropogon contortus (black speargrass) pasture in central Queensland between 1988 and 2001. Treatments included a range of stocking rates in native pastures, legume-oversown native pasture and animal diet supplement/spring-burning pastures. Seasonal rainfall throughout this study was below the long-term mean. Mean annual pasture utilisation ranged from 13 to 61%. Annual liveweight gains per head in native pasture were highly variable among years and ranged from a low of 43 kg/steer at 2 ha/steer to a high of 182 kg/steer at 8 ha/steer. Annual liveweight gains were consistently highest at light stocking and decreased with increasing stocking rate. Annual liveweight gain per hectare increased linearly with stocking rate. These stocking rate trends were also evident in legume-oversown pastures although both the intercept and slope of the regressions for legume-oversown pastures were higher than that for native pasture. The highest annual liveweight gain for legume-oversown pasture was 221 kg/steer at 4 ha/steer. After 13 years, annual liveweight gain per unit area occurred at the heaviest stocking rate despite deleterious changes in the pasture. Across all years, the annual liveweight advantage for legume-oversown pastures was 37 kg/steer. Compared with native pasture, changes in annual liveweight gain with burning were variable. It was concluded that cattle productivity is sustainable when stocking rates are maintained at 4 ha/steer or lighter (equivalent to a utilisation rate around 30%). Although steer liveweight gain occurred at all stocking rates and economic returns were highest at heaviest stocking rates, stocking rates heavier than 4 ha/steer are unsustainable because of their long-term impact on pasture productivity. © 2010 The State of Queensland (through the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries). Source

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