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Farmer's Feedback
Medics Farmer's Feedback
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Medic Farmer's Feedback

Tim Westblade - Medic

Medics will likely play a much greater part in pastures on the property of Tim Westblade, at Boree Creek, in the Riverina region of southern New South Wales. Mr Westblade said he noticed medics had persisted quite well over many seasons with barrel medic, in particular, still showing up in areas years after the original seeding, and in areas that had also gone through a cropping phase. He said they had tended to plant longer-season clovers in previous years, but were looking at a medic option because of its ability to flower and seed earlier in the season.

The evaluation of different pasture species included a trial on the property conducted by the local AgNVet store which included plots of medic, clover, lucerne, barley and oats. Small areas of pasture options were sown in late April and survived through a very tough season which contained very little in-crop rain. Mr Westblade said there was just four inches of rainfall over the cropping season on the property and very little fell during the spring months. He said during November, when crops were being harvested, the medic varieties in the plots had set seed, whereas other options were still trying to flower and struggled with the dry conditions. The ability of the medic to set seed and then produce more plants the following autumn will make it an excellent option for longer-term pastures. “We are going to increase the amount of medics we grow,” Mr Westblade said.

Over the past three seasons, Cavalier spineless medic has been included in a pasture mix with lucerne and clover, and this season the property also planted Caliph barrel medic, Silver snail medic and Bindaroo button medic. Cavalier medic has seeded down nicely over the last two summers and germinated well the following season. The trial site was cut during the season to simulate grazing and the area will be evaluated over a longer timeframe to look at the persistence of the pasture options.

Mr Westblade said it was originally planned as a 12 month option however they were not going to do anything further with the area and plan to incorporate the area, as is, with the rest of the farm program. “We will run the block the same as our other areas and see how it is in five years’ time,” he said.  “I will see what persists and that will help us make our decisions going forward.” He said the growth of the medic in the trial was very similar to the other pasture options and it would be a key crop going forward. Early rain in autumn will help establish the forage and provide valuable feed options during winter and early spring. Medic could also be trialled with grasses to evaluate its suitability as a pasture mix in the area. The Westblade property runs merino sheep and specialises in the production of rams, which are sold privately through many parts of Australia.  An open day is held in September each year.

Tim Westblade, of Boree Creek, NSW

David AgnewMedic mix an excellent rotation option - Medic

David Agnew, of Stansbury, on the Yorke Peninsula of South Australia, inspecting a paddock of medic varieties grown for hay last season. A mix of medic pasture varieties has proved to be an excellent option in rotation with cereals on the Agnew property, at Stansbury, on the Yorke Peninsula of South Australia. David Agnew said medics had become an important rotational option because of their soil types which suited pastures a bit better than crops. He said the greyish soil type over limestone was quite shallow and the blend of medics provided a good option for grazing and hay. The medic blend was recommended by a local agronomist and consisted of 20 percent Goldstrike Caliph barrel medic, 15 percent Goldstrike Cavalier spineless burr medic, 50 percent Goldstrike Paraggio barrel medic and 15 percent Goldstrike Tornata disc medic. A range of medic varieties were used to take advantage of different seasonal conditions.

Mr Agnew said the blend was sown dry just prior to Anzac Day last season, at a rate of 10 kilograms per hectare with an application of 80 kilograms per hectare of MAP. “We spread it and hit it with a stone roller,” he said. “It germinated really well.” The 22 hectare paddock was sprayed for grass weeds and Broadstrike herbicide was also used for capeweed control. “We grazed it lightly but not too much,” Mr Agnew said. He said the main aim of the paddock was to produce good quality hay which could then be used later in the year as sheep feed. The paddock was locked up and cut for hay during spring, with an average yield of 2.5 tonnes per hectare achieved from the crop. Mr Agnew said the medic blend had been used for a number of years on the property and was providing some advantages over other rotational options. Last season the medic was planted in a paddock that had grown barley the previous season. It will be followed with a wheat crop next year.

The medic phase in the rotation is setting nitrogen in the soil and also assisting weed control. “Nitrogen going back into the soil is helping,” Mr Agnew said. “With the weed control we are not relying on chemicals as much.” The medics also regenerate and will continue to grow for a number of years and provide grazing options. “After the hay was cut this year the medics kept on growing and then set burr (seed),” Mr Agnew said. He said the medics would survive through the following cereal crop and be a useful grazing option. The hay from the medic paddocks have been used on-farm to feed stock in the summer months as a supplement to traditional cereal stubbles. “It gives the lambs a bit of extra protein,” Mr Agnew said.

David Agnew, of Stansbury, on the Yorke Peninsula of South Australia
Cavalier Spineless Burr Medic Farmer's Feedback

Brad Claughton - Cavalier Spineless Burr Medic

A legume mix that consisted of Cavalier spineless burr medic and AgWest Bartolo bladder clover undersown to wheat has been designed to reduce nitrogen costs in the following canola crop on the property of Brad Claughton, at Yallunda Flat, in the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia. Cavalier and Bartolo were both chosen for their hard seed levels, to ensure the paddock will regenerate to produce good grazing options the following year. Mr Claughton said that during the wheat harvest, seed that was set by the legumes was smashed up and spread out through the back of the header. Although sheep graze the stubbles, there was enough seed set and regrowth from the initial plants to then take advantage of the autumn break in April or May. At the same time, the stand will be oversown with Balansa clover and then utilised through the winter and spring to feed sheep and lambs. Mr Claughton said, while cropping was the major money spinner, it was important to include a pasture phase in the rotation on the property. “In areas in southern Australia, where it is not prime cropping country, you have got to have a mix.” The medic and clover mix will be utilised for two years to feed the range of sheep types on the property.

While most are merino-based, the flock also includes the South African Meat Merino (SAMM) and Suffolk. “We have a diminishing wool clip but lamb production is very good,” Mr Claughton said. He said in the second year of production the sheep will eat the legumes down to virtually nothing and the areas will be spray-topped in readiness for the canola phase. “By loading the paddock up with nitrogen it reduces input costs for canola and increases yield.” The two year pasture phase provides an excellent break for the country and helps with disease and weed control as well as the nitrogen fixation. In 2012 the Cavalier spineless burr medic and Bartolo bladder clover were sown in a skip row formation along with the wheat seed. Mr Claughton said 12 inch row spacings were used, with the legumes planted to every third row. Wheat was still sown at the normal rate of 100 kilograms per hectare and the medic and clovers varied between 2 kilograms per hectare and six kilograms per hectare, with the majority going out at 4 kilograms per hectare. The skip row worked well for establishing the legumes, but did leave gaps in the field which were more prone to weed issues. In the future, the legume will be sown down directly with the wheat for a more consistent paddock coverage.

Brad, Kerrie and Marlin Claughton, at Yallunda Flat, SA

Johnny Turnbull - Cavalier Spineless Burr Medic

Cavalier medic is being utilised as an excellent feed option and for nitrogen fixation to improve future crops on the Turnbull property, at Cleve, in the central Eyre Peninsula of South Australia Johnny Turnbull said medic had been an important pasture option for a number of years on the property and last season was sown with oats in one area and as a straight option in others. He said the direct-sown medic went out at 6 kilograms per hectare and both options were sown dry in March well before the cropping program started. “Usually we use the oats for some early feed and then graze the Cavalier lightly throughout the season.” The excellent seed set of Cavalier medic is utilised to improve the pasture in the second year and encourage a bulk of feed throughout the period. “Cavalier seems to drop its seeds off more than the other medics,” Mr Turnbull said.  “You can graze it at the same time.” He said knife points and press wheels were used at sowing and this allowed the fallen seed to congregate in the furrows and germinate rapidly with rain in early autumn. “It is very thick down the rows.  If there is an early break you get a lot of feed.” In 2012 rain was received on the property in March and produced a bulk of feed throughout the cropping season.

Mr Turnbull said the medic paddocks were still green in October. He said the paddock sizes varied from 100 hectares down to some smaller areas and they would typically put large mobs of sheep in them to graze and different stages of the season. There are approximately 5000 sheep on the property and the larger mob sizes are introduced to a medic paddock for periods of between 15 and 20 days before being shifted to another area. “We find we can graze it hard and it will come back,” Mr Turnbull said. He said if an area of medic is spelled from September onwards it can respond quickly and produce a bulk of feed which is then used for grazing or could be cut for hay. Cavalier is a newer variety and has performed well on soil types ranging from heavy clays through to sand. A real benefit of the legume is the nitrogen fixation and general improvement in soil structure which assists the following cropping phase. Mr Turnbull said the crops that follow the medic pastures generally yield more and can also provide advantages in protein content and grades. “The crops are well ahead,” he said. Cavalier was also included in a pasture mix that also contained Paraggio medic, Bartolo Bladder Clover, Caliph Barrel medic, Dalsa sub clover and Clare2 Sub clover. Mr Turnbull said the mix had done well in its first year. He said at the end of the season Cavalier medic was the most prolific seed setter.

Johnny Turnbull, Cleve, South Australia

Hilton Reynolds - Cavalier Spineless Burr Medic

A crop type that is not normally associated with cold area climates has proved a successful option on the property of Hilton Reynolds, at Cooma, in the Monaro Plains region of New South Wales. Mr Reynolds said he decided to plant some Cavalier spineless burr medic last season despite it not being used a lot in the area. He said the main reason he experimented with it was to find a cultivar that would complement establishing lucerne in the area. “Medic is a winter active, whereas lucerne is more winter neutral,” he said. Options such as phalaris and grasses tended to take over during early spring which made establishing the lucerne successfully an issue. The Cavalier medic was planted with L70 lucerne on March 24 with 3 kilograms per hectare of the medic broadcast with gypsum and another 3 kilograms per hectare direct drilled into the paddock with 9 kilograms per hectare of L70 lucerne. A bag per hectare of DAP was also included after a soil test on the paddock showed it to be low in a number of elements. Mr Reynolds said sowing conditions at planting were almost perfect and both the medic and the lucerne established very well.

He said it was quite a hard winter with many extremely cold days throughout the period. Despite the conditions, the pasture mix grew well and, by spring, had produced a bulk of feed. “It just kept going all through winter,” Mr Reynolds said.  “Once the spring came it just took off.” He said there was enough bulk in the paddock to mow it down and bale it for hay, however he made a decision to let the medic set seed and provide options into the future. “I think next year we will definitely put the mower through and bale it,” he said.  “Everyone that looked at it said it would make top quality hay.” A field day held on the site by the local Department of Agriculture was well attended, with many of the participants impressed by the growth and adaptability of Cavalier medic in the area. Mr Reynolds said he allowed weaner lambs onto the paddock at Christmas to feed on the pasture and also knock the medic seed out of the heads. At this stage the lucerne part of the pasture mix was hitting its straps and producing excellent summer feed. The medic will regenerate with autumn rains and provide an opportunity for early grazing and then a hay cut later in the year. Other options such as phalaris and clover could also be considered to direct-drill straight into the lucerne and medic stand to bulk it up even further. “Subject to moisture in the autumn, it will be an excellent winter feed.”

Hilton Reynolds, of Cooma, NSW

David AgnewFrank Tobin - Cavalier Spineless Burr Medic

A decision to oversow two paddocks of lucerne with a medic has paid off with an abundance of cattle feed on the Burnewang Homestead property, at Elmore, in central Victoria.  Farm manager, Frank Tobin, said the lucerne stand was three to four years of age but, due to seasonal conditions and management, was not performing as well as it should.  He said he didn’t have any experience with medics but decided to direct drill seed into the lucerne to see if it could deliver the amount of feed they needed.  “It delivered way beyond what I expected.”  The Cavalier medic was sown at a rate of 8 kilograms per hectare in May with 60 kilograms of DAP per hectare also applied.  “In July it started to hit its straps and by late September it was growing faster than what we could consume,” Mr Tobin said. 

The 40 hectare area was in two 20 hectare paddocks and grazed by 160 Poll Hereford cows and calves from September onwards. One paddock carried cows with calves born in autumn and the other cows with calves born in spring time.  Mr Tobin said an electric wire was used so the cattle could graze the maximum amount of feed from the area each day before being progressed to the next section. He said the wire was moved each day but they were still unable to get across each paddock after eight weeks of continuous grazing.  “It was a huge volume of feed,” he said.  As the Cavalier medic came into late spring the lucerne took over and provided more feed during the summer months.  The stand will be managed through the summer similar to a normal Lucerne crop.  Mr Tobin said the Cavalier produced a mass of pods and the hard seed set should provide a strong base in the paddock for next season.  He said if the medic germinates with rain in the autumn it will provide feed even earlier in the season with the two species complementing each other well.  “It was my first experience with medics and it was a learning curve on how to manage it to get the most feed,” he said.  “We will look at what we’ve done and make any changes for next year.”  The seasonal conditions of 2010 certainly helped produce an excellent result from the Cavalier medic.  “To take advantage of a season like this we needed to have the right product in the ground.”

Frank Tobin, Elmore VIC

Ian Maslin - Cavalier Spineless Burr Medic

A pasture mix which included medic seed has performed well undersown to barley on the property of Rod Maslin located between Ardlethan and Coolamon in southern New South Wales. Mr Maslin said subclovers and lucerne had been the predominant pasture species grown in the past but he had turned to a different mix last season.  “The dry years have tested a lot of the different clovers so I looked at something different,” he said. “Our pastures through the drought were just disappearing.”  This season the barley was sown at a reduced rate of 20 kilograms per hectare into 18 inch row spacings.  Normally cereals are planted into 9 inch rows but last season every second row was blocked to allow enough light to come down through the canopy to benefit the pasture species.  The pasture mix was broadcast across the area at planting and consisted of 2.25 kilograms per hectare of winter active lucerne, 1 kilogram per hectare of sub clover, 1 kilogram per hectare of rose clover, 1/4 kilogram per hectare of Bartolo bladder clover and 1 kilogram per hectare of Cavalier medic.

Mr Maslin said the Cavalier medic was up and away earlier in the paddock and seemed to produce a lot of feed per plant.  He said the pasture and barley mix was planted to a number of different paddock types with the soil pH varying from low to mid fives to more neutral types. The Cavalier medic performed particularly well on heavier soil types.  After the barley harvest the Lucerne will be allowed to flower and then the paddocks can be grazed by the mixed stock of 800 merinos and 2200 cross bred. Mr Maslin said the pasture mix will remain in the paddocks for a minimum of three years with the lucerne component allowing good feed over the summer months and the other pasture species designed for feed through the autumn and cooler winter months. He said the Cavalier medic had shown good early growth and so would be a good option earlier in the season. It had also seeded quite early and with its high hard seed count would adjust to different seasonal conditions on the property. Last season in a drier year the reduced planting rate barley which had lucerne pasture established underneath yielded similarly to the solid row barley.  Mr Maslin said it would be interesting to see how the two options performed under the better seasonal conditions.  He said the skip row configuration and reduced planting rate of the cereal was crucial to getting good pasture establishment.

Ian Maslin, Ardlethan NSW

Trent CarterCavalier Medic produces nitrogen and weed control in Marnoo
Cavalier Spineless Burr Medic

A 50 hectare paddock of Cavalier spineless burr medic has proved an excellent rotation option on the Wallaloo Park Stud property of Trent Carter at Marnoo, in Victoria. Mr Carter sowed the paddock to medic in April 2009 at a rate of 8 kilograms per hectare. Medic was essentially used as a break crop to provide herbicide options to control brome grass and to also fix nitrogen in the soil for the following crops. “The weed burden in the paddock was high,” Mr Carter said. After the Cavalier established well it was allowed to go to seed and at the end of 2009 and set up the paddock for a productive result in 2010.

An early break led to good growth and the opportunity to graze the paddock from March through to August with a set stocking rate of approximately eight rams per acre (20 rams per hectare). “We hit it quite hard,” Mr Carter said. “It got away from the animals. They did extremely well.” He said in the future he would also look at drilling some annual ryegrass into the stand to bulk it up early in the season. “I would also look at strip grazing the paddock to make the most out of it.” The Cavalier paddock was shut up in August and then cut for hay in mid-October. Mr Carter said they achieved an excellent yield of 5 tonnes per hectare of hay from the paddock and sold the produce off-farm. He said the forage was hit by rain when it was on the ground but still produced hay of very good quality. “It held onto its colour well - better than vetch and other crops we’ve tried.”

Trent Carter, Marnoo VIC

Danny LloydLucerne / Medic Mix under sown to Oats - Cavalier Spineless Burr Medic

A mix of lucerne and medic has performed well under sown to oats on the properties of Danny Lloyd in the St Arnaud district of central Victoria. Mr Lloyd said they had relied on cocksfoot and clover as pasture options on a property at Stuart Mill, south of St Arnaud, in the past but had found it not as effective on another farm located to the west. He said in 2011 they decided to try a mix of L70 lucerne at 5 kilograms per hectare and Cavalier medic at 2 kilograms per hectare under sown to a milling oat which went in at 50 kilograms per hectare. “It all seems to be going really well,” Mr Lloyd said. “As we look after it I think it will be really good.” The operation is predominantly focused around fat lamb production and the switch to a lucerne / medic pasture mix will provide feed options throughout the year. “With lucerne you can fill the feed gap.

That’s the best part of it. In the summer time there is a big feed gap and if you have something to replace it you are ahead.” The lucerne and medic pasture will be managed to provide feed from February onwards and be managed for many years of production. Mr Lloyd said they normally sowed the oats at 70 kilograms per hectare but dropped the rate down to 50 kilograms per hectare in the under sown paddocks. “Germination was very good,” Mr Lloyd said. Both the L70 and Cavalier seed had been treated with Goldstrike. The Cavalier medic kept up with the oats throughout the season and then flowered and set seed. The planting of crops was conducted in May and the season was generally good, although a few dry patches leading into spring was of some concern. Mr Lloyd said some of the oats were cut for hay which did not seem to affect the lucerne and medic growing underneath. As well as the under sown areas, the lucerne and medic mix was planted to different areas as a stand-alone option.

Danny Lloyd, Stuart Mill VIC

Jeff RoadsLambs perform well on Medic based pasture - Cavalier Spineless Burr Medic

A medic based pasture proved to be the ideal feed to lamb down into, on the property of Jeff and Cheryl Roads, at Penshurst, in the Western Districts of Victoria. Jeff Roads said they had wanted to try Cavalier spineless burr medic for a number of seasons and eventually sowed it in the second week of April, 2011 as part of the mix with ryegrass and sub-clover. He said there was some thought that medics didn’t go well on their more acidic soil types but he was encouraged to trial a 10 hectare paddock. “We’ve bought medic hay out of the Wimmera in the past and it is brilliant stuff,” he said. The property is a merino and hay making enterprise so a medic hay option would be ideal. Mr Roads said the spineless burr aspect of Cavalier medic was also a positive for fine wool production.

He said the Cavalier medic plants were more prominent than the sub-clover plants during the middle of winter and it set the crop up nicely to be grazed in August, as they were pressed for feed options. “In the first week of August we put sheep on it and they couldn’t catch it – it went nuts. We lambed merinos down on it in September and October and the stocking rate was up to five ewes per acre. “We just kept on adding stock to it and it probably could have taken six. “It had 100 percent lambs on it and they were the best lambs on the place.” Mr Roads said he had initially been unconvinced about the ability of medics to handle the soil types and the conditions. “We found native medics here and decided if that was growing here then Cavalier would also.” The paddock was limed prior to sowing and the ryegrass sown at 15 kilograms per hectare, the sub-clover at 7 kilograms per hectare and medic at 3 kilograms per hectare.

Much of the paddock was still green in December and the Cavalier medic had also done a good job of setting seed for the following year. “I walked through and found Cavalier plants with seed pods on it,” Mr Roads said. “It is a prolific seeder and that is what we were after.” He said they were looking forward to seeing how the medic performed the following year and were keen to turn the paddock into a permanent pasture and also use it for hay production. “Down the track it will be our main hay paddock.” The success of the medics in 2011 meant a lot more of it will be planted on the farm in the future, with around 130 acres planned for 2012.

Jeff Roads, Penhurst VIC

John Martin - Cavalier Spinless Burr Medic

Medics have become a vital part of the pasture mix with reduced rainfall in recent years on the property of John and Jodie Martin, at Irrewarra, near Colac in Victoria’s Western Districts. “I’ve found the best all-round medic is Cavalier (Spineless Burr),” Mr Martin said. “If the country is water-logged Cavalier will withstand it better.”. “Medics regenerate better than sub-clover and fix a lot more nitrogen,” Mr Martin said.

John Martin, Irrewarra, Victoria

Neville Kernich- Cavalier Spinless Burr Medic

Input savings of up to $1500 a paddock have been achieved at Neville Kernick’s farm through the use of Cavalier and Silver Snail medic. Mr Kernick started growing Cavalier medic five years ago because of its high seed and dry matter production “We’ve found by growing seed crops, the regeneration and nitrogen input has been phenomenal. “In the paddock where we’ve had medic, we’ve been able to greatly reduce the N inputs.” The input savings of $1500 per paddock is based on estimated nitrogen savings of $50 per hectare.

Nev Kernich, Freeling, SA

Graham Clay- Cavalier Spinless Burr Medic

The drought tolerance of Cavalier medic has impressed Graham Clay who planted the crop as part of his pasture base. Mr Clay said he had been growing ryegrass for years and decided to add medic to the mix in order to achieve better protein in the feed. Mr Clay said the Cavalier medic responded very well to the limited rainfall of the season. “When the rain came it really went well,” he said. I’ve never seen anything grow like that. We’ll definitely sow more in the autumn.” The ryegrass – medic mix was strip-grazed by cows through the autumn.

Graham Clay, Camperdown, Victoria

Darren KerrCavalier Medic used to bulk up lucerne stand - Cavalier Spinless Burr Medic

Medic seed was used to bulk up a lucerne stand and provide grazing options at different stages of the year on the property of Darren Kerr, at Kamarooka, near Elmore, in central Victoria. Mr Kerr said he directdrilled Goldstrike Cavalier spineless burr medic into a two year old Goldstrike L56 lucerne stand in the autumn of 2009. “We have been trying to target varieties suitable to lower rainfall that can also fill feed gaps in the winter time,” Mr Kerr said. The Goldstrike L56 lucerne provides good feed through the summer but is more dormant in the winter time, so the medic was a good option on the property. It was planted at a rate of 8 kilograms per hectare and germinated well. The pasture was also treated with a tonne of lime per hectare prior to the medic being sown. Mr Kerr said he put between 300 and 400 ewes on the 22 acre (9 hectare) block over 12 days and they ate the forage to the ground prior to seed set. “The stock loved it and did really well on it,” he said. “We got a heap of feed value out of it.”

After the stock were removed from the paddock the Cavalier medic was allowed to go to seed to ensure a more longterm pasture option. “There was heaps of seed there,” Mr Kerr said. He said they were looking for a pasture that would last three to four years and make the most of the varied seasonal conditions. Last year the lucerne medic mix also had some self-sown oats in it and they were experimenting with other varieties such as clover and cocksfoot for forage alternatives. “We are looking at low rainfall varieties suitable for our country.” The medicbased pasture could be used for hay or silage production as well as grazing and provided a good option through the winter months. “We will target different paddocks with medics and have a double edge with improved pastures,” Mr Kerr said. Over the past six years, approximately 200 hectares of lucerne had been successfully established on the property and could also be used as the basis of other pasture species. Mr Kerr said medics were ideal as they provided feed in the winter, were tolerant to lower rainfall and also added nitrogen to the soil. He said there were a lot of people in the district trying different things. With the varied weather conditions over the past decade, it is important to have a range of crops and varieties to take advantage of rainfall events.

Darren Kerr of Kamarooka, near Elmore, in central Victoria

Legume Mix excellent option to regenerate paddock - Cavalier Spinless Burr Medic

A legume mix consisting of medic and Balansa clover provided an excellent option to regenerate a pasture paddock on the property of Bill Giles, of Yorketown, in South Australia. Mr Giles said the paddock was mainly grass based and not very productive so he decided to spread out a blend of 70% Goldstrike Cavalier spineless burr medic and 30% Goldstrike Enduro Balansa clover in an attempt to improve the feed quality.

It was spread throughout the paddock just prior to the autumn break on Anzac Day. A home-made snail bait spread was used to scatter the seed and a stone roller was then run over the top to encourage seed, soil and moisture contact. Mr Giles said he used a blend seeding rate of between 10 and 15 kilograms per hectare. Much of the paddock contained trees with the legume mix surviving well after being planted in amongst the scrub. “It seemed to do all right under the trees,” Mr Giles said. The paddock was lightly grazed through the winter and early spring, with the main aim to let the medic and Balansa clover set seed for the following year.

Mr Giles said the blend germinated well throughout the paddock and made the area much more productive. There were good seasonal conditions for the majority of the year which assisted in the strong establishment. Good conditions provided a bulk of feed throughout the farm, which meant the blend paddock did not need to be grazed as heavily as it would have been nder more marginal conditions. Mr Giles said there was an amazing amount of seed set from both varieties which will further enhance the pasture leading into the next season. “Next year we might slash or spray the grass out,” Mr Giles said.

Sheep on the property are mainly cross-bred lambs and merinos and a successful legume establishment in the paddock has meant options for greater carrying capacity and better weight gains. Both the Cavalier medic and Enduro Balansa Clover are self regenerating and suited to both short-term and long-term pastures. The high protein, high quality feed available from the blend are well suited to regenerating old grass-based pasture paddocks.

Bill Giles, Yorketown, South Australia

Dean ThomasDean Thomas - Cavalier Spinless Burr Medic

Medic pasture has proved to be an excellent longterm option in rotation with crops on the property of Dean Thomas at Maitland in South Australia. Mr Thomas said he used medics through much of the property because they suited the alkaline soil type and also provided good grazing options. Last season, two paddocks of 60 hectares in total were sown to a mix of different medic varieties. The blend consisted of 40 percent Goldstrike Paraponto medic, 30 percent Goldstrike Caliph barrel medic and 30 percent Goldstrike Cavalier spineless burr medic. Mr Thomas said he liked trying new varieties and the blend of medics suited the different seasonal conditions that could occur in any given year.

He said last season under wet conditions some of the varieties adapted to the conditions better than others. The medic was sown into paddocks that had contained wheat the previous year and are now being used as a longer-term pasture option. “We will still crop every other year,” Mr Thomas said. A cereal crop will be direct-drilled into the paddock next season and then it will once again be used as a medic pasture paddock the following year. “If you are only cropping every other year you can go on indefinitely,” he said. Last year’s medic crop was sown before the autumn break in April with one paddock planted at 5 kilograms per hectare and the second paddock thicker at between seven and eight kilograms per hectare.

Cattle had access to both areas and other paddocks soon after planting and grazed the medic throughout the year. Mr Thomas said the seed set from the medic was very good and would set it up well to regenerate and produce quality feed in future years. He said the rotation of medic and cereals had been utilised on the property for many years and worked really well. Last season, Targa herbicide was sprayed early for grass weed control and RoundUp was also used at a very low rate to spray-top the paddocks late in the season. Fertiliser is applied during the cropping phase of the rotation and the cereal also benefits from the nitrogen fixed by the medic plants. “When you have good medic you can really see the difference,” Mr Thomas said. “The nitrogen for the next crop is a bonus.”

Dean Thomas of Maitland, South Australia

Ian HancockCavalier medic used for feed value at nitrogen fixation - Cavalier Spinless Burr Medic

Ian Hancock of Flowerdale near Yea in Victoria used Cavalier medic in a blend with forage oats to increase feed value and add nitrogen to the soil. Medic was used successfully to increase feed value and add nitrogen to the soil on the property of farmer and contractor Ian Hancock of Flowerdale near Yea in Victoria. Mr Hancock said he planted Goldstrike Cavalier spineless burr medic as part of a mix with forage oats and was very impressed with its performance.

The paddock was sown in the last week of March with medic replacing clover as the preferred legume species. “It struck and grew better than clover,” Mr Hancock said. “Next year we will use it in most places where we used to sow clovers.” He said clover had been difficult to establish in the drier seasons and so they had looked to crops such as medics that were grown further north. The Cavalier medic struck and was out of the ground with just 3mm of rain which fell a week after planting. “We are using it on soils with a pH of between 4.5 and 4.8. It’s not a neutral soil type, but the medic seemed to perform well.” The oats crop was sown at 100 kilograms per hectares with 100 kilograms per hectare of DAP into 155mm row spacings.

Medic seed was scattered at a rate of 15 kilograms per hectare in between the rows using a Duncan seeder and competed well with the oats throughout the season. A lack of fencing as a result of the February bushfires meant the eight hectare paddock was not heavily grazed, although it did feed 30 cows and calves in the last three weeks of June prior to it being locked up for silage. The silage was harvested in late September with an average yield of 32 rolls per hectare at an estimated weight of 680 kilograms per roll. A subsequent hay cut was then achieved towards Christmas.

Mr Hancock said they were planting, silage and hay contractors and would often trial new varieties and techniques on their own property before recommending it to other farmers. He said the medic blends worked particularly well and the nitrogen fixation and added feed value more than paid for itself. “We were very happy with the product,” he said. “It was a gamble, but not an expensive gamble and it was certainly worthwhile.” He said Cavalier medic could also be grown on its own to produce high quality small squares of medic hay.

Ian Hancock of Flowerdale near Yea in Victoria
Medic Mix Farmer's Feedback

David AgnewDarryl Smith - Medic

A range of medic species have been used in a mix as part of the crop rotation phase on the property of Darryl Smith of Glenville Merino Stud, between Cleve and Cowell on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia. Last season Mr Smith trialled a number of medic-based blends to see what would suit the different soil types and seasonal conditions. Typically the blend is undersown to a cereal in the cropping phase at a rate of between 2.5 and 3 kilograms per hectare and then allowed to set seed to produce a pasture the following year. In the past Mogul and Parraggio medics have been used although last season the blend was expanded to include Cavalier and Parabinga medics as well as Clare 2 sub clover and SARDI Persian clover. 

Mr Smith said many of the paddocks had historically been sub clover country and medics were being introduced because they were a bit quicker and would also set seed. He said by putting in different varieties there should be something that will set seed in range of seasonal conditions. The medics are normally then used for one year for sheep feed in the pasture phase and also gives the added advantage of extra nitrogen in the soil.  “Crops after the medic phase have lifted,”  Mr Smith said. “Paddocks with good medic pastures have good protein in the wheat.” Paddocks range in size from 32 to 60 hectares and are generally grazed by mobs numbering between 150 and 200. The sheep are allowed to chew the medic down prior to being relocated in an adjacent paddock to allow the medic pasture to respond.

Mr Smith said, in the good conditions of 2010, the pastures responded very quickly and allowed two to three good grazings over the winter and spring.  “This year the sheep would graze it down, be shifted out and by the time they got through the next paddocks the first one was ready again.”  The medics are used for feed, to add nitrogen to the soil and also as a tool to control problem weeds such as capeweed and various grasses.  Last season there was good success in controlling capeweed by spraying the medic areas with MCPA early and then grazing the areas heavily.  “We put a big mob of sheep in there and the medics just took off after that.”  Glenville Merino Stud is one of thelargest on the Eyre Peninsula. They carry approximately 1400 breeding ewes. Each year up to 250 rams are sold with the on-farm sale held on the first Tuesday in August.

Darryl Smith, Eyre Peninsula SA
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