The low key fodder industry is already big (about A$1 billion) and set to grow strongly due to shifts in demand, advances in technology, and increasing environmental awareness
FodderFacts No. 10
Wonder Envirocrop likely to challenge Cotton, Rice & Sugar.
The low key fodder industry is already big (about A$1 billion) and set to grow strongly due to shifts in demand, advances in technology, and increasing environmental awareness.
Fodder King, the self proclaimed fodder specialist, predicts that these changes will, within one or two decades, propel the fodder industry to rival cotton, rice and sugar in size, according to director, Paul McCardell.
Domestic demand for lucerne hay is growing strongly, to intensively feed livestock (such as cattle and sheep) so they continue to gain weight all year round instead of losing condition grazing on poor quality pasture.
Dairy demand for lucerne hay has accelerated since de-regulation and it has also become a highly sought after export commodity.
New patented processes and marketing strategies devised and implemented by Sydney based firm Fodder King are revolutionising the benefits reaped by farmers who commit themselves to this growth industry enabling them to minimise environmental degradation, and to actually reverse it.
Lucerne harvested the Fodder King way provides reliable profitability for farmers while stabilising soil, sustaining healthy water tables, preventing erosion and salinity and reducing the impact of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.
About 20% of the 4.8 million tonnes of fodder produced annually in Australia is based on lucerne, which is capable of multiple harvests. In fact, with the assistance of irrigation it can be harvested at least six times over the spring, summer and autumn period.
The auxiliary environmental benefits offered by lucerne extend way beyond the farm gate, earning it the reputation of a wonder envirocrop.
Lucerne provides a highly digestible balance of protein, energy, vitamins and minerals, essential to boost animal performance.
A proven winner used by the Persians to invade Greece and later by Ghengis Khan to invade Europe, lucerne is a portable all-in-one feed solution which, through its high degree of digestibility, causes little wastage.
High digestibility has the added benefit of reduced emissions of methane, which is considered one of the worst greenhouse gases, 21 times more harmful than carbon dioxide.
Because lucerne is a perennial crop, which requires replanting only twice every decade, soil disturbance from tilling is reduced by a factor of 80% relative to annual crops such as cotton and rice.
This means a dramatic reduction in emissions of nitrous oxide accompanying tillage, where nitrous oxide is one of the most damaging greenhouse gases: 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
The profuse growth of lucerne generates biomass at an estimated rate of 100-150 tonnes per hectare per year absorbing vast quantities of carbon dioxide. About 80% of the carbon is sequestered underground by its prolific root system, probing up to 15 metres deep.
Lucerne is faster acting than trees, taking only one to two years to mature, whereas trees take as long as twenty years. Just like trees, lucerne keeps the water table down to its natural level, ensuring that productive soil is not contaminated by salt.
Being a legume, lucerne creates natural nitrogen fertiliser to nurture the next rotation crop. Less mineral fertiliser needs to be added to the farm, thereby reducing the volume of nitrous oxide generated to produce nitrogen fertilisers.
Fodder King's technology means Australian fodder can be exported competitively to world markets, big enough to ensure that an industry as big as rice, cotton or sugar could arise - minus the negative environmental side effects of these other crops.
Farmers can now profitably link with Fodder King for the mass production of fodder while concurrently reaping the environmental benefits of sustainable farming practices.
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