Saltbush and Novel Forage Understory Systems
Drought-resilient landscapes with profitable native shrubs and legume systems across southern Australia.
- Novel understory canopies incorporated into saltbush pasture may help with shrub productivity enhancing land function and decreasing dryland salinity risk.
- Incorporating saltbush with self-regenerating legume varieties may improve the profitability of low-production paddocks and regenerate salinity-prone landscapes.
Deep-rooted native shrubs or novel annual legumes offer significant opportunities to increase livestock feed supply and quality, compared to traditional forages under drought conditions. This CSIRO project will utilise both Anameka saltbush and novel understory species to demonstrate a drought-resilient and profitable system using best practices establishment. Data will be collected to demonstrate this novel forage system’s economic and environmental benefits.
The lack of drought preparedness and the cost of managing feed gaps associated with climate variability have limited the profitability and economic resilience of mixed farming and rangeland enterprises. The variety, Anameka saltbush, has been proven to increase wool and meat production in relatively dry years, offering a 20% higher economic return compared to standard saltbush. Biserrula and Serradella also show promising results in low to medium-rainfall areas increasing seasonal feed supply by more than 60% with summer sowing. On-farm research has shown that the livestock carrying capacity of drought-tolerant shrubs systems can quadruple when annual legumes dominate the understory. This is because the legumes offer quantities of high-value forage and fix nitrogen to boost the productivity of shrubs and volunteer understory plants.
The project combines this elite native shrub, Amameka Saltbush, with new self-regenerating annual legumes, into profitable and sustainable systems. This collaboration between leading producer groups, nurseries, and researchers, will establish commercial-scale plantations of novel forage systems that can mitigate the impact of drought.
Project Start Date: February 2023
Project End Date: July 2024
Project Funding: Future Drought Fund
Project Collaborators: CSIRO
- Shaun and Hillary Wittwer, MH Wittwer & Co
- Troy and Carly Smith, Kingussie Farming