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Millewa farmers back fodder demonstration trial

Millewa farmers are the driving force behind a new local trial to find an alternative fodder source to saltbush.

Millewa farmers back fodder demonstration trial

Local farmers inspect the fodder trial site at a field day in October 2009.

Under the leadership of the Millewa Carwarp Landcare Group and a team of enthusiastic farmers, a demonstration site has been set up near Werrimull where eight native shrub species are being tested as a supplementary feed source in grazing systems.

“This fodder trial is an example of local landholders proactively investigating potential species that are suitable to stock and can survive in dry conditions,” said Joan Burns, chair of Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), which has supported the project since its inception in early 2009.

The Millewa fodder trial was instigated by the local Landcare group, with 20 hectares of land made available for the site by landholders Kevin and Ian Arney. Three hectares has been planted out with eight species of saltbush and perennial shrubs native to the area, such as Acacia, Pittosporum, Rhagodia and Eremophila.

A committee of landholders has been formed to guide the future direction of the trial, which has helped to ensure a high level of landholder involvement.  A good representation of Millewa landholders attended a half-day field day at the site in October last year, which included an overview of the project and the chance for farmers to view the plantings and discuss the project concept.

In addition to keeping landholders involved in the project, the committee has also developed strong working relationships with a number of organisations and funding bodies, all of whom are actively involved and/or have a specific interest in the success of the trial.

This project is supported by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), through funding from the Australian Government's Caring for our Country and Woolworths Australia, with support funding from the CSIRO (Evercrop). The Department of Primary Industries and Mallee Sustainable Farming are also supporting the trial.
Monitoring of the fodder trial site will continue over the coming winter months, with the site expected to be grazed for the first time late this year or early in 2011.

“Stock grazing will be monitored to see what plants the stock prefer to eat and how the native plants react to being grazed,” Ms Burns said.

“If the demonstration trial is a success, it may encourage farmers to consider incorporating native perennial plants into areas on their farms that are of low production potential.”

Outcomes from the grazing phase are expected to be released later this year.

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