MLA Producer Demo Site Project
Growers in the region arguably deal with some of the toughest agricultural conditions in the State. Variability in rainfall, seasons and environmental and soil constraints all play a role in the ability of growers to remain sustainable.
Sheep play an important role in mitigating that risk. 85% of MADFIG members are mixed farm enterprises, all with the clear aim of making their sheep enterprise as productive as possible. The wheatbelt of WA has experienced an 11% increase in sheep numbers from 2017 to 2019 (Meat and Livestock Australia 2020)
The summer/autumn nutritional feed gap that often occurs in the WA eastern wheatbelt has resulted in low stocking rates, leading to sub optimal sheep production in the majority of years. Supplementary feed is one of the major production costs, however, adoption of legume pastures and novel forage crops is varied due to lack of confidence.
MADFIG aim to showcase forage species that broaden the supply of nutrients and demonstrate that these species can be incorporated into the farming system to sustainably improve profitability, reduce risk and increase the ease of livestock management. The use of forage species and legume pastures also has a large environmental benefit. A 2014 survey of eastern wheatbelt growers identified 65% of all soils were consistently unproductive for wheat production, with acidity and salinity being the two major constraints. Growers could potentially be gaining more value from sheep production on these paddocks.
This project aligns with the WALRC priority to demonstrate effective management strategies to address the autumn/winter feed gaps in the Mediterranean zone to increase productivity, reduce risk and improve profitability. It has been reviewed and endorsed by the MADFIG committee and the supporting organisations of DPIRD, CSIRO and Murdoch University.
This producer demonstration project is managed by Merredin and Districts Farm Improvement Group (MADFIG) alongside MLA, in the Eastern Wheatbelt of Western Australia. 5 demonstration sites began in 2021 with an additional one proposed for 2023.
The project aims to lift productivity by establishing farmer chosen legume pasture/perennial shrub combinations expected to fill the Summer feed gap With links to other key projects delivered by MADFIG – the Feed365 also supported by MLA, the current Grain Legumes project in partnership with WANTFA and CSIRO’s Shade and Shelter project. Growers can trial making less productive soils more productive in order to maintain and increase stocking rates. The initial focus for the first two years was on establishment and weed control. These sites are now ready for grazing in the Summer of 2023. MADFIG is a Drought Hub Node for GGA’s South-West WA Drought Hub funded by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund and this project will become an important demonstration of one of the suite of tools to manage future climate, especially for mixed farming enterprises.
For more information on the MLA program visit this website.
Please find attached the August 22 edition of MLA’s Producer Demonstration Site (PDS) project updates.
The updates are a snapshot of how some of our Levy, Co-Contributor and Integrated R&D PDS projects are progressing, from progress summaries we have received in the last few months, to keep industry informed of the activity occurring across the country and find out opportunities to get involved.
The PDS updates are broken down into MLA’s consultation regions, some definitions for anyone not familiar with the abbreviations used:
WALRC – Western Australia Livestock Research Council, including southern Western Australia project updates.
If you are keen to either get involved in or find out more about any of the PDS projects in this update, please contact the project facilitator.
Feel free to share this information with your networks and if you have been forwarded this by a friend – Sign up for regular PDS updates here.
Other PDS Program Updates:
NEW PDS Search Tool – Out Now
A new online search tool allowing users to search all active and completed Producer Demonstration Site (PDS) projects is now live on the MLA website.
The PDS Search Tool allows people to search for Producer Demonstration Sites by topic and/or state/region of relevance – making the findings of each PDS more accessible and allowing producers to incorporate the outcomes into their own production systems.
Periodically extension materials and resources will be uploaded to the project pages, along with progress updates and project outcomes.
The PDS facilitator’s contact details can also be accessed if you wish to get more information or get involved with a project.
Become a Sponsor
MADFIG cannot succeed in it’s mission without the support of its valuable partners.
Annual sponsorships are available for purchase.