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Determining the Nutrient Requirements of Perennial Pastures when Grown with an Annual Legume Companion

Determining the Nutrient Requirements of Perennial Pastures when Grown with an Annual Legume Companion

  • Author: Northern Agricultural Catchments Council
  • Date Posted: Jan 5, 2015
  • Category:

Project Details

Project Delivery: Evergreen Farming Inc

Contact: Erin Gorter

Phone: 0429 833 752



Supporting Organisation: Northern Agricultural Catchments Council


Start Date: November 2014    End Date: May 2016

Site ID: 1512-05-07

Size Are Ha: 3


Project Aim

With their very deep roots (>3m), perennial pastures can access nutrients from deep in the soil profile, previously leached past the root zone of shallow rooted annual pasture species. However, the poor sandy soils that perennial pastures are typically grown on have a low nutrient holding capacity. And in most cases, due to low margins and cost cutting, the application of fertiliser in recent years has been sporadic at best. It is highly likely that perennial pastures will respond to additional nutrition, but which nutrients at what rate will give the best bang for buck?



This project will conduct nutrition trials in 3 perennial pasture paddocks that have a good annual legume content, to determine if the nitrogen requirements of the perennial pastures can be met by the nitrogen fixation of the annual legumes. The nutrient requirements (P,K,S, TE) of the annual legumes will also be determined.

A series of simple nutrient rich test strips will be laid out in paddocks containing a good mix of perennial pastures and annual legumes. The response of the pastures to the addition of the various nutrients will then be determined by regular tissue testing and dry matter cuts. Soil testing (to 1m) will be used to determine the background soil fertility of each site. The effectiveness of nitrogen fixation by the annual legume component will be determined by nodule scoring and possibly laboratory analysis.

This project is being delivered by Evergreen Farming Inc  and is supported by Northern Agricultural Catchments Council through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

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