A SURGE in demand for multi-species pasture mixes has seen one Tasmanian seed producer expand its range.
Rob Dent from Ardent Seeds said growth in the number of farmers including some regenerative agriculture practices in their enterprises had seen demand for a broad range of different pasture plants and herbs increase.
“With regen ag, diversity is really important so we’re looking at not just diversity of species but also in legumes and things like that as well,” he said.
Mr Dent said pasture mixes for regenerative agriculture need to provide feed at different times of the year so getting the mix right is crucial.
“You don’t have all your eggs in one basket that way,” he said. “Also, you think of the top part but it’s also the root part and it’s important that they’ve all got different niches in the root part.”
Mr Dent said having more species in a pasture also has other benefits. “We’re pretty confident you can get a higher yield from a multi species rather than just your straight ryegrass and white clover, but it’s hard to get some of that data,” he said.
While multi-species pasture mixes were less common years ago, that has now changed. “It’s becoming more mainstream,” he said. “There’s a lot more demand, so we’re carrying a lot of different things now.”
As well as the more typical pasture species like grass and legume varieties, Mr Dent said they are now growing more herbs such as Sheep’s Parsley and Sheep’s Burnett.
“We’ve always had chicory and plantain, but this gives us two different ones and they’re out of totally different families, which is quite important when you’re trying to get a mixed species pasture,” he said.
“You can have lot of different legumes but they all sort of fill the same niches, whereas these herbs fit in a different spot in the profile.”
Another variety the company now grows more of is the Serratas Serradella, which is a pink soft-seeded type.
The serradella is highly palatable to stock.
The crop will be harvested for seed in about January when it will be windrowed.
“They have these pods that hang down and instead of the seed, which is in the pod, the pods break up, similar to how a wild radish pod does and it breaks into pod segments and that becomes the seed,” Mr Dent said.
“It can also grow from on the surface, which is what it’s designed to do, so it’s quite a good one if someone is top dressing something out and needs good ground coverage.”
Mr Dent said the serradella was becoming more popular in regenerative agriculture pasture mixes.
The company also produces a number of green manure species including a high alkaloid lupin which can be used ahead of other crops.