Grasses provide the bulk of the pasture yield and are visually obvious. However, there are also a large number of non-grass species that are also present, such as ferns, sedges, rushes, legumes, daisies, orchids and pennyworts.
These non-grass species are often poorly recognised, yet usually outnumber the species of grasses and so significantly contribute to the biodiversity of pastures.
Many species provide out of season green feed and a different composition of energy, protein and minerals, helping to reduce or overcome some of the nutritional problems of north coast pastures.
On the other hand, not all non-grass species are desirable, as there are many invasive and/or toxic pasture species, such as crofton weed, fireweed and mother-of-millions.
“Knowing what pasture plants you have, whether they are a valuable feed resource or poisonous and what influences their abundance is the first step in their management,” Kempsey-based agronomist Carol Rose said.
“This year presents an opportune time to inspect what you have in your pastures, as many plants are currently flowering and therefore are at their best in terms of identification.
Seeing what you have is important in assessing management tactics in the future. Understanding your species also allows you to assess your potential production, biodiversity and any possible problems.”
“The composition of a pasture varies from year to year depending on climate, grazing and fertiliser, and other factors, giving landholders the scope to alter species composition to meet management and sustainability goals.
“However, this is only possible if the individual species can be recognised.”
Landholders have an opportunity to find out more about their pasture species at the display at Tocal Field Days. Carol Rose and Education Officer Harry Rose will be on hand to talk about various plants on display and identify plants brought in by landholders. Harry Rose said that any samples brought in should contain flowers and fruit if possible to help with identification.
Also available at Tocal Field days, is the new book ‘Legumes and Herbs of the Coast of NSW’ written by Harry Rose, Carol Rose and Trevor Rose. This book produced by Tocal College will be an expansion both in range and in content of the previous North Coast book. It will be an invaluable tool for landholders to be able to recognize plants in their own paddocks.
Talks will also be a feature of the display. At 9.30 there will be Grass Recognition, 1.00 will be Legumes and Herbs Recognition, and at 2.00 there will be a Managing pasture plants session. These talks will be on every day.