Our second farm ‘Lemon Grove Research Farm’ PL was leased in 2008 to grow and diversify our enterprise.
In complete contrast to the home farm whose terrain would challenge the fittest mountain goat Lemon Grove’s 68ha of alluvial river flats provides gentle leisurely access to beautiful pastures for our pregnant milking cows
The lush flats at Lemon Grove Research Farm which is adjacent to the Jamberoo township
Despite receiving 33% less rainfall than Clover Hill (and the occasional flood!), we have managed to increase stocking rate on Lemon Grove by 150% to graze 5 cows per hectare. This has allowed us to achieve a 350% increase in milk production from that farm in the last three years.
Thank God this only happens every 50 years ( touch wood)
This has been achieved through a combination of improved feeding in the dairy and via our small opportunity feed pad, improved fertility in our pastures and innovative and exciting agronomic strategies that provide us with a more even supply of high quality pastures all year round
Michael standing in our lush first foray into the world of perennial pastures in Jamberoo
This leads us to our first and exciting research innovation which is to investigate the role and performance of perennial non-grass based pastures in coastal dairy farms
We were looking for ways to reduce our reliance on high nitrogen fertiliser inputs due to both its potential environmental impact and exposure to price volatility. We have watched urea ride the price roller coaster over the last five year due to its close linkage to oil price and we only see the upward trend continuing
Traditional coastal grass based pastures (summer kikuyu/paspalum; winter ryegrass) are highly dependent on nitrogen inputs, generally suffer from poor quality and manageability in summer, require re-sowing each year and are limited by root depth in being able to access moisture and soil nutrient and hence are prone to short term moisture stress. There is also a significant lag (production gap) between rye grass senescing in spring and summer grasses growing well; and between sowing and production of new winter pastures in the autumn
Past efforts to grow perennial ryegrass have ben foiled by insect pests and summer grass weed infestation and dare I say inappropriate management practices .
We have been working with Dr Neil Moss from SBScibus for 10 years
We have been refining these pastures in the Jamberoo environment with our consultant Dr Neil Moss over the last 3 years and on our current trial site we have planted a mixture of pasture based on perennial legumes and herbs
The trial site is located in paddock 6 with the control site in paddock 5
Over the next 3 years we will share our success and failures (hopefully failures will be few and far between)
This trial is supported by funding from