Using dual-purpose crops in sheep-grazing systems

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Abstract

The utilisation of dual-purpose crops, especially wheat and canola grown for forage and grain production in sheep-grazing systems, is reviewed. When sown early and grazed in winter before stem elongation, later-maturing wheat and canola crops can be grazed with little impact on grain yield. Recent research has sought to develop crop- and grazing-management strategies for dual-purpose crops. Aspects examined have been grazing effects on crop growth, recovery and yield development along with an understanding of the grazing value of the crop fodder, its implications for animal nutrition and grazing management to maximise live-weight gain. By alleviating the winter ‘feed gap’, the increase in winter stocking rate afforded by grazing crops allows crop and livestock production to be increased simultaneously on the same farm. Integration of dual-purpose wheat with canola on mixed farms provides further systems advantages related to widened operational windows, weed and disease control and risk management. Dual-purpose crops are an innovation that has potential to assist in addressing the global food-security challenge. © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry

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