Going Ballistic

A spring forage mix of plantain and clover will boost spring production, help fill in pugged or sparse pastures and lift N fixing rates. By Jackie Harrigan.

Infilling a winter-damaged pasture has just got easier and more environmentally friendly with a new product from seed company Agricom.

Harnessing the power of plantain and clover as a forage mix easy to establish into a sward in the spring will boost winter-damaged pastures and have positive environmental effects in reducing nitrogen leaching.

Broadcasting the N loss-reducing forage Ecotain along with white clover in spring, in a one-hectare seed package called the Environmental Ballistic pack, will boost spring production, help fill in pugged or sparse pastures and lift N fixing rates from the extra clover, along with bringing down the N leaching loss by using Ecotain’s proven four mechanisms, Agricom Australasian brand manager Mark Brown says.

Research over many years had shown the reduction in N leaching effects of functional Ecotain plantain, Brown says, and farmers have slowly been coming around to the forage.

Agricom Australasian brand manager Mark Brown.

Farmers need to understand variety choice, what is real and tangible and what’s in it for them, before they get involved with investing in using the forage, he adds.

“Now that two of the four mechanisms by which plantain reduces N loss have been incorporated into the Overseer model and regional councils are accepting it as a N loss mitigation, farmers are uptaking the forage more and more.”

The Dilute and Reduce mechanisms have been ticked off by Overseer, the other mechanisms Restrict and Delay Brown anticipates will be added in time. Brown says a couple of establishment approaches are becoming more popular with farmers.

“The pure sward approach of plantain and clover is working for some farmers, and the second approach is incorporating the plantain into mixes to create forage diversity – particularly with plantain’s recovery being strong at the end of a drought period and the fact that it holds on during a hot summer period when the ryegrass component might struggle in the heat.”

Cool season growth is also very good, he added.

After a long and wet autumn/winter period like this season, Brown says the company recognised the opportunity to add Ecotain and clover into pugged and damaged paddocks and boost both N fixing by the clover and reducing N leaching with the Ecotain.

The Environmental Ballistic pack is hitting retail stores now and has a mix of 8kg prill-coated Ecotain and 4kg Prillcote white clover seed, enough to oversow one hectare.

Rather than waiting for a contractor to get onfarm and oversow the bare patches, Brown says the Ecotain Ballistic pack is easily applied onfarm through a spreader on a tractor or quad bike, applied with fertiliser or magnesium or on its own.

The Prillcote treatment doubles the weights of the small Ecotain seed, Brown says, allowing the seed to be broadcast twice as far and avoiding banding risk.

The Ballistic package allows farmers to work around parts of the farm that are two or three years away from recropping and boost the forage production in those damaged pastures, Brown says.

“Other farmers will cover half of the farm every second year.”

Plantain is not a long-lived species like perennial ryegrass, but more of a two-or-three-year proposition.

“The added advantage of this species is that it will reseed itself if allowed, but it does establish well by oversowing or broadcasting.”