Scientist says farmers have forgotten what healthy pastures look like.
Speaking at the 57th annual Grassland Society of Southern Australia’s conference, an AgKnowledge representative had some strong comments regarding good-quality pastures.
New Zealand’s AgKnowledge managing director Doug Edmeades said when it came to legume-based pastures, “We have lost the way”.
“We’ve lost our experience and knowledge of how to grow good clover-based pastures,” he said.
There are various reasons why producers have lost their way, with one of these being the loss of fertiliser demonstration trials.
“Years ago we used to do a lot of fertiliser trials on pastures and farmers loved to look at them, so they knew what a good pasture looked like. They had the mental image —but we haven’t done those trials in 30 years, so they’ve lost that image,” Dr Edmeades said.
He said enough was being spent on fertiliser, but getting the right balance was the issue. “The ideal mix is 30–40 per cent clover and the balance being any productive grass. Clover is the essential component in our low-cost pastoral system.”
Dr Edmeades also spoke strongly about how the voice of science should be asserted and that “pseudo-science” and ineffective fertilisers were undermining the confidence of farmers.
“Pseudo-science is confusing farmers,” he said.
Speaking to groups such as the Grassland Society was rewarding for Dr Edmeades.
“I find that often when I speak to farming groups, people come up and say they had forgotten about that. It’s very satisfying from a professional point of view.”
More than 220 people attended the society’s conference held in Hamilton, Victoria.