On The Ground: Nudan Forage Sorghum in Vic
March 10, 2015
Grower story from John Knight, Axedale.
Nudan summer feed a winner for Angus stud.
On a small grazing property on the Campaspe River near Axedale, John and Robyn Knight are living their dreams and building up their small Angus stud, Campaspe Rocks Angus.
Over the past five years, they have worked hard to improve the ryegrass and clover pasture base, add fencing and laneways to the property and build soil fertility, while at the same time improving their genetics by acquiring quality breeding cows.
“It’s a tough game and very competitive, so we’ve got to make every post a winner,” said Mr Knight.
A constant supply of quality feed throughout the year is a priority, with 10 head of elite breeding donor cows and 40 head of recipient cows for embryo transfer and artificial insemination, plus calves and bulls on the 84 hectare farm.
That’s why they started growing forage sorghum last summer.
“We grow a cereal crop of oaten hay in winter, but we have had three dry springs so decided to look at growing a crop that would allow us to put some hay away for the coming year,” he said.
The success of their first forage sorghum crop led them to expand their plant this summer to 20 hectares.
They also tried a new variety, Nudan forage sorghum, on the advice of Hayden Coombes from Statewide Irrigation and Rural Supplies, Bendigo.
Nudan is a new release forage sorghum hybrid from Nuseed with fine stems and soft leaves for early summer grazing and outstanding hay.
The sudan x sudan grass is recommended for dairy farmers, lamb and beef producers looking for high quality summer feed for their animals.
The Knights planted their two hectare Nudan crop in mid-November with 50 mm of follow-up rain, alongside two other varieties of forage sorghum – Lush and Ultrafeed.
The crops were irrigated in mid-December, but didn’t really take off until mid-January when they received 69 mm of rain.
“It grew from 400 mm to up to my chest after that rain,” Mr Knight said.
“You could actually watch it grow in January. I reckon it was growing three inches every night with the humid weather we had here.”
The Knights strip-grazed the Nudan sorghum in blocks of 40 metres by 25 metres.
“We fed 45 head of cattle on that Nudan for three weeks and you could see their condition improving over that time,” he said.
They have also been able to cut their Nudan and other forage sorghum crops for hay.
Getting the double benefit of grazing and hay has been a big boost for the Knights.
“Our first objective was always to make some hay, but it has produced so much feed that we ended up buying store lambs,” Mr Knight said.
“We could have easily grazed 100 head of cattle on that two hectare block of Nudan and six hectares of Ultrafeed and Lush for four or five weeks.”
The crop was undersown with 100 kg/ha of urea and planted with 100 kg/ha of DAP at a seeding rate of 20 kg/ha. It was irrigated once in December and will be irrigated again in February to promote another flush of growth.
Mr Knight has found it quite water efficient, holding on well with a monthly irrigation or rainfall.
He said the feed quality was excellent, with Nudan growing a thin stalk and softer leaves.
“You can see the quality in the paddock and pick where the Nudan crop ends and the other sorghum varieties start,” he said.
Mr Knight recommended Nudan to other graziers as a way to get ahead over summer.
“For anyone looking for more quality feed or hay over the summer period, it is the way to go,” he said.
“With the feed we get out of it from a small amount of irrigation, it’s just magic.”