Sowing the Gap

 “Sowing the Gap” is a multi-partner East Gippsland region-wide project centred on learning from the past and preparing for the future. The aim of the project is to better prepare the regions beef and sheep farmers with knowledge, understanding and experience required to fill the feed gaps that present themselves in Southern Australia grazing systems every year in Summer and Winter and periodically during times of drought. 

The feed gap is an issue that presents itself to sheep and cattle farmers every year to varying degrees and in drought to an extreme degree. The extensive use of supplementary feed to fill the seasonal feed gap in pasture-based beef systems in Southern Australia is seen as a significant inhibitor to profitability. More recently during the drought, we observed the stressful and unprofitable reliance on purchasing supplementary feed from Western Victoria for the maintenance of core breeding herds. This project will unpack the operational procedures and economics of growing fodder in our systems to not only fill the feed gaps but also “fill the shed” to build the type of resilience into grazing systems that are required to navigate a variable climate. 

This project will be managed by the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, coordinated by Gippsland Agricultural Group and driven by farmers to see the establishment of 2 variety trails; one winter and one summer at the Gippsland Research Farm in Bengworden. The establishment of 6 demonstration sites on commercial grazing farms in the local districts of; Cann River, Snowy River, Tambo Valley, Buchan Valley and the Gippsland Plains; these demonstrations will capitalise on existing local networks in those regions including Agricultural Victoria’s “Better Beef” network, the Top Soils network and Landcare. The project will also see the development of 5 case studies of approaches that worked well in the recent drought and documentation of the project findings to inform future practices.

Project Objectives
Project Objectives

Learn from the example of those who successfully navigated the recent drought to prepare for the future

Building drought resilience of East Gippsland beef and sheep farms
 
Build the knowledge, confidence and intent to adopt fodder crop-based systems to manage feed gaps and build resilience in their farming operations. 

Project Activities
Project Activities

Winter Fodder Trail

Summer Fodder Trail

2 field Days at the Research Farm 

1 acre plots on 10 Farms
 
Each demonstration farm will sow 6 varieties as selected by the producer group to plant for a winter feed gap and the 6 to suit a summer/drought feed gap 

12 Extension events (1 winter and 1 summer at each demonstration site) 

Documentation of success
Documentation of success

5 Case studies on “Best Bet” successful decision drying the last drought (written, podcasts and videos) 

Documentation to share main findings of demonstration and trails. (A recipe book for pasture cropping in East Gippsland)