Evaluating the role of forage shrubs in filling feedgaps – application of a feed demand tool

Penny Roberts1, Andrew P. Smith2 4, Eric Zurcher3, Rick Llewellyn4, and Andrew Moore3

1 Penny Roberts, PO Box 218, Milang, South Australia, 5256, pennyrobertscraig@gmail.com

2 Faculty of Veterinary & Agricultural Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, 3010

3 CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Black Mountain, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 2601

4 CSIRO Agricultural Systems, Waite Campus, Glen Osmond, South Australia, 5064


Perennial forage shrubs offer benefits to mixed farming systems in the low rainfall zone of southern Australia including providing out of season or drought forage on marginal farming areas, year round ground cover and water management. The key benefit for many farmers is filling the annual feed gaps of a predominantly annual based feed system. There have been research and extension efforts focused on understanding, promoting and supporting the adoption of perennial forage shrubs in the low rainfall zones of south eastern Australia. Despite this, existing feed base decision support tools aimed at farmers and advisors did not include forage shrubs. An existing whole farm planning tool (the MLA Feed Demand Calculator) has been expanded using trial and simulation data to include a forage shrub option and 8 new location options. The tool is applied to a mixed farm case study in the low rainfall zone of Victoria where the role of an area of saltbush in meeting autumn and pre-crop harvest feed demand is evaluated.  It offers farmers and advisors a relatively simple to use tool to consider the role of forage shrubs in the whole farm feed base context.


The Australian Society of Agronomy is the professional body for agronomists in Australia. It has approximately 500 active members drawn from government, universities, research organisations and the private sector.

Photo Credits

David Marland Photography david_marland@hotmail.com Southern Farming Systems Agriculture Victoria

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