NPR - GRAZING LEGUME FORAGES TO CHANGE FARM PROFITABILITY
Two case study farms illustrate the complexity and power of introducing grazing legumes into farm systems. Lucerne (Medicago sativa) is documented in a very dry environment while red clover (Trifolium pratense) is used in a wet environment. Grassland pasture production was approximately 1950 and 10400 kg DM/ha/annum in the two environments respectively. The lucerne and red clover produced 6900 and 14400 kg DM/ha/annum by comparison. Introducing lucerne as a grazing legume into 8% of the grazing area increased net annual cash flow from $62,000 to $147,000 per annum, and increased the return on capital invested in livestock from 7 to 13% p.a.. Introducing red clover into 5% of the grazing area increased net annual cash flow from $211,000 to $352,000, though saw a slight reduction in return on capital invested in livestock from 23 to 21% p.a.. The lucerne was used to improve the lactation performance of the ewe flock. The red clover was used to increase the live weight and reproductive success of young stock to drive whole flock performance. In both cases extra spring growth from the legumes was able to spare feed elsewhere on the farm, alleviating feed shortages, or increasing productivity of other stock classes.
Keywords: Grazing, investment returns, Lucerne, profitability, red clover, sheep.