A year-round supply of nutritious feed is of paramount importance in pastoral farming. The productivity of pastures can be improved at low cost by using mixed species. However, the outcome on farm may be better or worse than expected.
The Hill Country Futures Project is working on sustainable ways to improve hill country herbage production. Among the research work, is to identify optimum seed rates of different species for summer moist environments. Knowledge of how the proportion of species in a seed mix affect population and weed abundance is guiding the formulation of forage seed mixtures. The current experiment was established in 2018 by blending commonly used legumes; red clover, white clover and subterranean clover; grasses such as cocksfoot and ryegrass and the herb plantain.
An improved understanding of the function of pasture species in the mixed sward and their performance with seasonal climatic variation are continuously monitored. In addition, monoculture and mixture performance, canopy formation for effective light interception, water usage, quantity, and quality of dry matter yield as well as their persistence over the years are measured under irrigated conditions.
This experiment is grazed by sheep to examine species responses to grazing pressure and changes in population dynamics over time.