Pasture dieback hits coastal pasture

Pasture dieback hits coastal pasture

Beef
Gympie district cattle producer Ivan Naggs.

Gympie district cattle producer Ivan Naggs.

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Dieback has had a big impact on a range of coastal pastures.

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GYMPIE district cattle producer Ivan Naggs says he copped a blast from his wife Sharyn when they returned home to see their normally lush pastures looking nothing short of terrible.

"Actually, I was just as surprised as she was over how bad the country looked," Mr Naggs said. "Instead of the usual tall, lush pasture it looked like someone had attacked the country with a chemical spray. It was only later we found out it was dieback."

The Naggs run the 140 hectare home property Spring Ridge in addition to leased country in the Neusa Vale area east of Gympie.

The dieback that first appeared in December 2017 effectively wiping out a range of pasture species including: Bisset blue grass, kikuyu, pangola, coastal paspalum, green panic and Rhodes grass. However, legumes, kazungula seteria and an early version of Callide Rhodes grass were unaffected.

While more closely associated with buffel grass pastures, Mr Naggs said the consensus was the dieback was being caused by an insect pest.

"The jury is still out, but the scientists seem to be 95 per cent sure that the dieback is being caused by a insect pest, possibly mealy bugs or white pearl," Mr Naggs said.

"And that's a real problem because some insects live anywhere from 100mm to 800mm underground, meaning they are very difficult to control."

Mr Naggs said their strategy had been to replant the country using non-susceptible varieties and to eliminate the use of nitrogenous fertilisers, which provided a food source for the insect pest.

Mr Naggs - who spend 40 years with Bayer and is well known for his key roles within AgForce - places a very strong emphasis on both biosecurity and animal welfare.

"I am committed to both biosecurity and animal welfare because, ultimately, it is about doing the best we can for our animals and our farm businesses," Mr Naggs said.

"Whether its using Tri-Solfen for pain relief or Multimin supplements to boost mineral levels, there are also sound financial benefits involved.

Ivan Naggs talks about the importance of animal welfare and biosecurity.

"We have to continually work to get livestock production right. That's not only delivering for the consumer, but also about making sure the threats to our farm businesses are minimised."

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