1NSW Agriculture, PO Box 63, Berry, NSW 2535
226 Bream St, Coogee, NSW 2034
3NSW Agriculture, PMB, Wollongbar, NSW 2477
4NSW Agriculture, PMB, Glen Innes, NSW 2370
Lotus is a summer growing perennial legume well adapted to acid, low fertility soils on the coast and tablelands of NSW (1). The two commonly used species of Lotus, L. uliginosus and L. corniculatus, require lenient grazing management for acceptable yield and persistence. This presents a challenge for the adoption of Lotus, as year round utilisation of feed is more often the objective of graziers. Because of this conflict between plant persistence and livestock feed requirements a participatory approach was taken. A participatory approach involves the end-user, in this case grazier, in the problem solving process. A participatory approach is more likely to develop realistic grazing management practises than if the researcher attempted to solve the problem alone. The approach can also be called co-learning as researcher, end-user and other stakeholders are involved in the problem solving process.
An initial meeting was held in May 1994 with the research, extension and agri-business stakeholders in the project to secure their support. Once stake-holders had agreed to the approach the second phase commenced where 11 district agronomists invited graziers to meet with the view to forming co-learning groups. The meetings were held in 11 locations (Eden, Bombala, Goulburn, Nowra, Rylstone, Maitland, Taree, Grafton, Casino, Glen Innes and Inverell) between August and November 1994. Groups were brought together in different ways: within existing Landcare (3 groups) or industry groups (1 group), by open (2 groups) or select (5 groups) invitation to the grazing community.
All groups (except one) agreed to establish a co-learning site on a paddock scale to compare local management with best-bet management. The local treatment was defined by the co-learning group and was generally intermittent set stocking. All groups were willing to accept the best-bet management as proposed by the researchers; this varied with Lotus variety, but generally involved lenient grazing with a short strategic spell. Researchers will monitor pasture composition and graziers will monitor grazing days from each of the paddock treatments. The groups will meet regularly to discuss progress and review management of each treatment.
The project is funded by the Australian Meat Research Corporation, Heritage Seeds, Pacific Seeds and Incitec Fertilisers Ltd.
1. Blumenthal, M., Kelman, W., Lolicato, S., Hare, M. and Bowman, A. 1994. In: Alternative Pasture Legumes 1993. DPI, SA, Tech. Rep. 219. pp.74-85.