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Fodder King Working for the Environment

Supplier: Fodder King
11 September, 2009

Fodder King's know-how, technologies and management systems enable irrigated lucerne to be used as a broad acre crop rotation tool, which generates profits at the same time.

Fodder King Working for the Environment

Sustainable Agriculture

Fodder King's know-how, technologies and management systems enable irrigated lucerne to be used as a broad acre crop rotation tool, which generates profits at the same time.

Broadacre irrigated lucerne crops can be rotated with virtually any other irrigated crop, such as cotton, corn, cereals and coarse grains.

Fodder King enables large plantations to be harvested profitably for hay production whereas previously grazing was the principal use. Long term sustainability results from the following benefits:

  • Nitrogen is fixed at rates up to 300 kg per hectare per year in the soil;
  • The water table is lowered by lucerne's long taproot (up to 15 metres), thus reducing salt inundation;
  • Soil structure is improved from aeration, loosening and mulch production.
  • Water penetration is improved;
  • Erosion is minimised by the root mass holding the soil together;
  • Identified by the Murray Darling Basin Commission as a tool to rehabilitate salt affected irrigation areas;
  • Low chemical demand for pest and weed control compared to most other crops, such as cotton;
  • A component of Integrated Pest Management as a natural alternative to intensive cotton crop spraying;
  • Used as garden mulch, it is an odourless and natural, mineral rich fertiliser.

Food Security

Irrigated lucerne, naturally processed into high quality fodder, also generates the following benefits:

  • Used for intensive animal production, it can reduce grazing pressure on marginal or degraded land;
  • Substituted for cereal grains, it can free up the supply of cereals for human consumption;
  • A cost effective natural source of plant protein that is a safe alternative to risky animal protein sources that have caused mad cow disease and botulism;
  • Support of large bee populations for honey production.

Pollution Control

Lucerne has a key role to play as an environmental management tool:

  • Environmental authorities recommend lucerne be used by country towns as a management tool to improve the health of our rivers. It is most suitable for absorption of excess nutrients contained in sewage effluent, thus helping reduce the impact of blue green algae;
  • In pellet form, it is an effective absorbent used for industrial liquid waste and as kitty litter;
  • As filter hay it is used to limit erosion due to runoff, for example on construction sites;
  • Lucerne crops are used for mine site rehabilitation.

Greenhouse Gas Emission Control

  • Harvesting forage crops may contribute towards reducing the impact of greenhouse gases:
  • Harvesting crop residue, in preference to burning off, reduces air pollution and greenhouse gas emission. For example, about 3 million tonnes of rice straw is burnt each year in Australia;
  • Fast growing crops, which are regularly harvested, like lucerne, act as efficient carbon sinks;
  • Lucerne hay, as the basis of a naturally balanced diet, can reduce flatulence and therefore methane production in grazing animals.

Waste Reduction

Fodder Kings know-how, technologies and systems for production and delivery reduce:

  • harvest waste by up to 15%;
  • energy consumption by up to 20%;
  • nutrient degradation by up to 30%; and
  • waste of labour, time, energy and machine capacity, thus increasing productivity by about 500%.

Sustainable Building Products

Compressed straw bales form a high insulation low rise building material, eg. when coated with concrete. Building standards are being adjusted to allow the use of crop residues for more environmentally sustainable construction.

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