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Farmers Digging Deeper

From October 2022 to February 2024, the Farmers Digging Deeper Project aimed to explore low-cost techniques for growing multi-species pastures and crops to extend the growing season, provide additional fodder, and improve soil, plant, and animal health.

Project Background

Timeframe: October 2022 – February 2024

Aim: to explore options to successfully grow multi species pastures/crops using low-cost techniques to extend the growing season, provide additional fodder, and improve soil, plant and animal health parameters.

Research questions:
1) How does a low cost seeder (Connor Shae) compare to a modern seeder (Taege) when sowing and
establishing multi-species cover crops?
2) How well do multi-species crops germinate without any preparation tillage?

Sites:
Luxton Park, Somers (sheep)
Uncommon Folk, Main Ridge (cattle)

Summary of Results

Key Findings 

  1. No significant changes in soil chemistry – there was some variability but not worth reading in to.
  2. Soil microbiology observations not comparable across the two sites, limited significance of findings.
  3. Pasture growth observations were significant – control saw the least pasture growth across both sites. Connor Shea and Taege yielded highest pasture growth.
  4. The paddock next to the demonstration paddock at Luxton Park used a power harrow that delivered excellent germination results.
  5. Autumn sowing at Luxton Park delivered good germination, possibly because pasture growth has slowed at that time.

Conclusion: There has to be some level of tillage to get strong germination results unless direct drill sowing is done with precision at ideal time.

This project is supported by the Western Port Landcare Network and Mornington Peninsula Shire, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare program.

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