Sunday, September 25, 2011

Great information at FRDS Chicory event

Chicory was the word on everyone’s lips at Trafalgar last Thursday.  26 people came together to discuss chicory as a forage option for Gippsland’s dairy farming systems.  Three local farmers shared their experiences with growing and managing chicory within their farm operations while Neil Lane from Intelact Consulting spoke about the latest research results with the forage plant.

With challenges such as cockchafers and longer and longer, drier Summers chicory is proving it’s worth.  While not providing a great feed source through wet and cold winter months, the plant comes into its own in the Spring and Summer months and after Autumn rains.  Challenges of management include persistence into the second and third years and keeping it in a leafy productive state.

Neil pointed out that rye grass is still the main stay of dairy pastures in southern Australia and well managed rye grass pastures are critical.  Chicory is one choice of many forage options and has strengths and weaknesses which must be explored.

Willow Grove farmer Andrew Balfour has grown chicory for the past 6 years.  He acknowledges it is now a part of his farming system with approximately 15% of his farm sown to chicory.  He noted that it grows well on his sandy soils but does not persist well on wetter river flats.

John Versteden, dairy farmer from Longwarry turned to chicory when his rye grass pastures were suffering continual and extensive damage from cockchafers.  John has grown chicory for 2 and a half years now and has around 20% of his pastures in a chicory and rye grass mix and an additional 12% in pure chicory stands.  

Dairy farmer from Buln Buln, Darryl Hammond sowed chicory for the first time a year ago and believes it to be “an outstanding forage option, very well suited to our farm.”  In the past Darryl had planted turnip and millet crops but found them difficult due to establishment issues and pests.  “It has been fabulous for us, I have never seen anything like it” Darryl said.

Chair of the FRDS project group – dairy farmer Tyran Jones was MC for the session and was able to share his own learnings from growing chicory with the very interested audience.  

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