Possible benefits from temperate perennial grasses

1.     Production
In the absence of salinity, dryland phalaris or tall fescue based pastures can produce >8 t/ha in the higher rainfall, higher altitude areas, and 4-6 t/ha in the medium rainfall, lower altitude zones. With low levels of salinity and waterlogging similar (or even increased) levels of production are possible, but production falls substantially as salinity and waterlogging increases and when ECe values exceed about 8 dS/m, production will be negligible.

2.     Conservation and amenity
Some visual amenity and landscape protection (erosion control) might be gained, but at these low levels of salinity, the sites will not be bare or scalded unless grazing management has been uncontrolled and allowed overgrazing of the saltland and livestock camping on the ‘cooler’ saltland sites over summer. Pasture production is the primary motive for using these perennial pasture grasses on saltland.

Any system that controls the grazing pressure will quickly lead to revegetation of such sites.

3.     $$’s
An on-farm case study in the SGSL initiative examined the establishment of a saltland pasture using phalaris and tall fescue as part of a shotgun mix. The investment was cash flow positive in year 4 and was able to pay back the establishment costs by year 7. However, sensitivity analysis suggests the costs associated with pasture establishment make profitability dependent upon good pasture and grazing management (7 DSE/ha required) to ensure high levels of pasture production and utilisation, pasture persistence (10 years required) and better than long term average prices for products.

Related Links: