BIGG win for premium pastures

The Barossa Improved Grazing Group (BIGG) held its final pasture walk for its Barossa Pasture Challenge Project on September 19 where various award winners were announced, with the top honour going to Anthony and Chris Steinert, representing the Angaston Ag Bureau.

The Steinerts won best overall pasture, judged by consultant Tim Prance on pasture profitability, botanical composition, ground cover and production potential. They received a $500 pasture seed voucher donated by Heritage Seeds.

Other winners were Andrew Koch, representing the Barossa Mid-North Dairy Discussion Group, who won a $50 Coopers Farms Supplies voucher for the most improved pasture, and Jamie Nietschke, representing Koonunga Ag Bureau who won a bag of ryegrass seed donated by Farmer Johns for the most profitable pasture.

The Barossa Pasture Challenge Project, funded by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR), aimed to implement a sustainable and productive pasture renovation program for paddocks in the region. It achieved this through the local producer groups (Angaston Ag. Bureau, Koonunga Ag. Bureau, North Rhine Sheep Group, Mount Pleasant Beef Group and Barossa Mid North Dairy Discussion Group) competing against each other to improve by any means a nominated pasture paddock throughout 2014, except being re-sown to a new pasture.

The pasture walk visited the six competing pastures, with an excellent turnout of 30 local producers who were able to benefit from the skills and knowledge of Mr Prance as well as local agronomists Peter Wendt and Craig John who provided technical assistance throughout the project.

Technical facilitator Brett Nietschke says the members found the challenge was a great learning experience.

“Through the process of the challenge, our producers were able to see how different manipulations, such as weed control and grazing strategies, affected the performance of the pasture. We tracked the quality and productivity of each pasture throughout the season, and shares these learnings at the pasture walk,” he said.

While the Pasture Challenge is now complete, BIGG is not taking a break, with three other projects still underway, including using soil moisture monitoring in grazing systems, investigation of root diseases of sub-clover, and recovery of native pastures following the Eden Valley bushfire.