Pasture Challenge Update

Four groups of farmers are going head-to-head in South West NRM’s Pasture Challenge, testing agronomic packages to overcome soil constraints and increase productivity on a paddock near Busselton. Local farmers are encouraged to attend a farm walk on 2 August to see how each treatment is faring.

The four groups competing in the challenge are:

  • The Rippers: deep rip; reseed with ryegrass, tillage radish and two inoculated clovers; control weeds and insects; and apply macronutrients and 2.5 tonnes of lime incorporated by cultivation prior to seeding.
  • The Plant Biology Group: reseed with a 14-species mix (peas, ryecorn, oats, two ryegrasses, two clovers, cocksfoot, chicory, plantain, tillage radish and forage rape); control barley grass and red mite; and apply nitrogen, magnesium, selenium, biological amendments and 2.5 tonnes of lime.
  • The Soil pH Group: incorporate 5 tonnes of lime; reseed with a mix of oats, barley, annual ryegrass, perennial ryegrass, brassica and clover; control barley grass; and apply nitrogen, phosphate, potash, copper, zinc and manganese.
  • The Meat and Potatoes Group: cultivate and reseed with ryegrass and two inoculated clovers; control insects and weeds; apply macronutrients and copper.


This event will look at plant growth since late June when the site was grazed and mown, and when the Rippers deep ripped. All plots were fertilised after grazing as per each group’s requirements in June. Tissue tests were collected prior to fertilising to determine the effect of lime on micronutrient availability.

Soil pH Group member Simon Williams said: “It has surprised me how good the lime has done, if it is the lime that has caused the effect. I didn’t expect it to be that impressive.”

South West NRM Sustainable Agriculture Program Manager, Peter Clifton, said, “This event will also feature the Knackered Knickers contest, where we will bury cotton underwear in each group treatment. We’ll extract them in spring to get an indication of microbial activity.”

Results of each agronomic package will be judged on several weighted factors including yield, cost per tonne of dry matter produced, feed quality and a range of soil health indicators.

Find out more about the challenge here. For information, contact [email protected] or 0409 680 900.

This project is delivered by South West NRM and supported by Western Beef Association Inc. It is part of the Soil Wise project, funded by the National Landcare Program Smart Farms Small Grants – an Australian Government Initiative. It is supported by Healthy Estuaries WA – a State Government program.