researchIt is too often assumed that growing conditions in Western Australia are similar to that of the major pasture producing regions of the eastern states. However, a simply analysis of the medium temperature ranges of Western Australia compared to that of South Australian or Victoria will clearly show significant differences. These differences need to accounted for when selecting varieties for WA. In marketing and promoting various pasture varieties into Western Australian for the past 35 years Irwin Hunter & Co have always maintained the need to understand and appreciate how individual varieties behave here. The company has always been involved in trailing however in May 2003 undertook the largest trial set up by the company to date. The experimental trial site now contains over 80 different varieties of ryegrass, clovers, lucernes and subtropicals.

“New varieties are being released onto the market place with increasing frequency,” said Irwin Hunter. “Their origin can be anywhere from interstate to overseas and it cannot be automatically assumed their climatic conditions are similar to our own. I have seen the same variety behave very differently here when compared to it”s growth in the eastern states.” Prior to marketing, a new variety we want to know it will produce successfully in Western Australia. “Our end user”s rely very heavily on the product in terms of profitability of their operations. It is not in our best interests to allow the farmer to discover that a variety will not grow here”. We don”t like surprises!

The research site was chosen very carefully. The geographical location ensures ryegrass or legumes that are successful in this areas will produce further south. In October 2003 an intensive irrigation system was set up. “The trial site is an ongoing project. We expect to be gaining data and information for a considerable period,” said Irwin Hunter. “We have been really pleased with the amount of information generated. We are now able to demonstrate to our clients behaviours of varieties and processes that we have been talking about for a number of years. More importantly, we gained some new insights into potential uses for pastures in this state. Some varieties are growing and producing here as they have done nowhere else. We can see the future of pasture management in this trial and it’s very exciting…