New Perennial Grasses To Keep Pastures Green In Drying Climate Says Workshop Co

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17th November 2008, 04:42pm - Views: 908
Media Release

17 November 2008

New perennial grasses to keep pastures green in drying climate says workshop convenor

Breeding new perennial grasses varieties to boost productivity in the drier parts of southern Australia is the
focus of a Future Farm Industries CRC (FFI CRC) workshop being held this week.

Workshop convenor, FFI CRC Research Director, Dr Mike Ewing, said the lower rainfall parts of southern
Australia lack good perennial grass pasture options.

"The original scope of our research five years ago was to find a range of plants suited to these marginal
areas," Dr Ewing said.

However with southern Australia experiencing a decline in rainfall, it has become clear we now need new
cultivars to increase pasture performance even in areas where perennial grasses are in use.

Perennial grasses, when used in combination with other established species, have the potential to create
permanent pasture systems due to their ability to access water deep in the soil profile and remain active
during the summer.

Research by the National Perennial Grass Improvement Initiative, the former CRC Salinity and more
recently the FFI CRC has worked with sub-tropical and temperate grasses.

"Already the signs are promising, with some tropical grass cultivars performing very well at trials in the
Western Australian wheatbelt and northern NSW," Dr Ewing said.

The temperate species focus is on breeding new perennial grasses where pastures are dominated by
unproductive annual grasses and weeds on the inland slopes of the Great Dividing Range in Victoria and

"We are now building on the work done by CRC Salinity and CSIRO that created new cocksfoot, tall fescue
and phalaris cultivars with improved productivity and are capable of surviving in low-rainfall environments,"
Dr Ewing said.

"These next-generation cultivars will be water efficient and suitable complements to lucerne in phase
farming systems in the target regions, which will help farmers remain productive in a drying climate."

Running in tandem with this breeding program will be the development of agronomic packages that feature
optimum grazing management practices for these new cultivars which will be delivered by the FFI CRC
and its partners.

"Just as important as breeding these new plants, is developing new ways to incorporate them into current
farming systems and then working closely with farmers to show them how it can be done," Dr Ewing said.

The FFI CRC Perennials Grasses Workshop will be held at Inverell, Bingara and Barraba in NSW on 19-20
November 2008.

Media Enquiries: Greg Lawrence, T: 0429101 675 E: [email protected]
Further information: Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre
aims to transform Australian agriculture and rural landscapes by developing and applying Profitable
PerennialsTM technologies to innovative farming systems and new regional industries.

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