Mallee Forage Shrubs Decision Tree 

A tool for the management and enhancement of forage shrubs

Welcome to our Forage Shrubs Decision Tree!

Perennial forage shrubs, or mixtures of forage shrubs and pasture, can provide a highly productive, complimentary grazing resource on mixed farms in southern Australia. Benefits span both livestock production and natural resource management, since plantings not only add to the resilience of the feed base, but also improve biodiversity and helping protect or reclaim degraded land.

There are many different ways that forage shrub planting can be set up and managed.  For example, farmers may choose to grow one shrub type or many, in either alley or block plantings, with or without pasture in the inter-row space.

Many farmers in the NSW, Victorian and SA Mallee regions have already planted saltbush, but are interested in improving the way they manage it. Other farmers may be new to forage shrubs but aren’t sure how to go about it. This decision tree has been set up to guide individual farmers towards planting designs and information that best suits their situation.

There are many plantings of saltbush in the Mallee that have survived over 20 years, but have become too dense and overgrown, sometimes providing habitat for rabbits. In some cases livestock have not performed as well as expected on the forage. This decision pathway explores how to rejuvenate existing plantings and better manage grazing of shrubs.

There are areas on many farms that are not profitable for cropping – these areas may be showing early signs of salinity (discharge area), have subsoil constraints, or be at risk of wind erosion. Rather than writing off these areas or letting them further degrade, they can be regenerated with forage shrubs. Shrubs have also been shown to have biodiversity benefits.

The resilience and perenniality of forage shrubs creates a more stable feed supply, especially during dry seasons, which can be used to fill feed gaps defer autumn grazing to so feed can ‘get away’. They also provide a rich source of protein and minerals, and shelter from extreme weather.

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