Possible benefits from tall wheatgrass

1.     Production
Under the right conditions, tall wheatgrass based pastures can ‘transform’ non-productive saline land into a highly productive and profitable pasture – for this to occur, grazing management must be used to keep the sward short and vegetative. Because of the extra water available at saltland sites, tall wheatgrass can produce more dry matter than adjacent, non-saline pastures if the site has only low or moderate salinity.

Tall wheatgrass, a summer grower, can dry sites out and so encourage the leaching of salts from the surface soil and delay the on-set of waterlogging in the following winter. These changes can increase the capability of the site to support a companion legume, giving significant improvements in total production and forage quality.

2.     Conservation and amenity
The visual amenity of tall wheatgrass pastures is considerably higher than for untreated saltland and there will be conservation gains associated with the improved groundcover – reduced erosion, reduced surface soil evaporation, and increased opportunities for biodiversity. However, pasture production is usually the primary motivation behind establishing tall wheatgrass pastures.

3.     $$’s
Farmer case studies consistently show the tall wheatgrass can be highly profitable in moderately saline and moderately waterlogged soils. Analyses in Western Victoria show an increased gross margin (for a self replacing merino wool flock) of $160 per hectare by year 3 from a tall wheatgrass based pasture. This was highly profitable even if the pasture lasted only 10 years.

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