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CSIRO PUBLISHING

Crop & Pasture Science, 2015, 66, 287–300


http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/CP13411

Effect of timing and height of defoliation on the grain yield


of barley, wheat, oats and canola in Western Australia

Mark Seymour A,F, Jonathan H. England B, Raj Malik C, David Rogers D, Andrew Sutherland E,
and Allen Randell E
A
Department of Agriculture and Food, PMB 50, Melijinup Road, Esperance, WA 6450, Australia.
B
Department of Agriculture and Food, 10 Doney Street, Narrogin, WA 6312, Australia.
C
Department of Agriculture and Food, 10 Dore Street, Katanning, WA 6317, Australia.
D
Department of Agriculture and Food, 444 Albany Highway, Albany, WA 6330, Australia.
E
Department of Agriculture and Food, Baron-Hay Court, South Perth, WA 6151, Australia.
F
Corresponding author. Email: mark.seymour@agric.wa.gov.au

Abstract. Winter cropping in Western Australia (WA) is dominated by spring-type cereals and canola (Brassica
napus L.) with no vernalisation requirement that are sown in late autumn (late April and May). With limited earlier sowing
opportunities for later maturing winter-type crops in early autumn, farmers aiming to obtain some benefit from the grazing
of crops (i.e. dual-purpose) must consider the grazing potential of spring types sown in late autumn. The aim of this study
was to develop grazing guidelines for spring-type crops in WA that will limit the potential for grain yield losses. In order to
determine the recovery response of spring-type crops to grazing intensity and timing, 59 time-of-cutting  height-of-
cutting experiments were conducted throughout the south-western region of WA in 2012. Experiments were conducted
on spring types of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), canola and oats (Avena sativa L.). Multi-
site analysis showed that treatments simulating high-intensity ‘crash’ grazing to ground level or to a height of 5 cm
reduced grain yield unless conducted early in vegetative growth before reproductive stages. Treatments simulating ‘clip’
grazing by removing only the top 5–10 cm of crop foliage reduced grain yield to a lesser extent than crash grazing, and
in several instances could extend the safe cutting period past hollow stem (Zadoks growth stage 30) and/or the end of
July for cereals, or past mid-July for spring canola, provided the developing reproductive parts of all crops were not
damaged. On average, the amounts of biomass removed by clip grazing without yield penalty were 0.4, 0.3, 0.5 and
0.3 t ha–1 for barley, wheat, oats and canola and were similar to those removed by earlier, safe crash grazing. These
represent significant amounts of forage and suggest that clip grazing of spring-type crops may be an approach suited to
WA cropping and grazing systems.

Additional keywords: cutting, grazing, recovery.

Received 29 November 2013, accepted 21 November 2014, published online 31 March 2015

Introduction 2015). Consequently, the current adoption of cereal or canola


Dual-purpose crops can be grazed by ruminants and subsequently varieties adapted to March and early April sowing has been
harvested for grain, and are used throughout the world (Harrison limited to small areas of 1300 ha of barley (cv. Urambie) and
et al. 2011). In Australia, dual-purpose wheat (Triticum aestivum 2500 ha wheat (cv. Wedgetail) in these higher rainfall regions of
L.) (Virgona et al. 2006) and canola (Brassica napus L.) WA (CBH 2013).
(Kirkegaard et al. 2008), which are usually sown earlier than Because the majority of WA has infrequent sowing
grain-only crops (in March and April), have been adopted by opportunities from late March to early April, the majority of
growers in the high-rainfall zones of eastern Australia (Radcliffe the crop is sown from late April to the end of May. This partly
et al. 2011). However, as described by Bell et al. (2015) and Lilley explains why >98% of the wheat crop of WA is sown to ‘spring’
et al. (2015), the opportunities to sow in March and early April varieties (Shackley et al. 2012), which have no vernalisation
in Western Australia (WA) may be limited to the southern requirement and a relatively short vegetative phase compared
coastal regions (e.g. Esperance) and high-rainfall parts of the with the traditional, later maturing wheat crops specifically
Great Southern (e.g. Kojonup), where sowing opportunities are developed in eastern Australia for dual-purpose use (Virgona
more frequent and season length favours later-maturing crops. et al. 2006). Similarly, most canola varieties grown in WA are
However even in these favoured areas, opportunities to sow in early–mid-maturity spring-types, with only 5% of the canola in
early April are limited to 1 year in 5 (Bell et al. 2015; Lilley et al. WA sown to mid-late to late spring varieties (CBH 2013), with

Journal compilation  CSIRO 2015 www.publish.csiro.au/journals/cp


288 Crop & Pasture Science M. Seymour et al.

essentially no dual-purpose (winter) canola currently grown controls were replicated up to six times in order to estimate
commercially in WA. variability.
With such limited opportunity for earlier sowing The experiments were located in 17 barley (Hordeum
(March–early April) and limited adoption of specifically bred, vulgare L.), 13 canola, eight oats (Avena sativa L.) and 21
long-season dual-purpose crops in WA, there is interest in wheat fields, respectively. Once the crops had emerged
assessing the potential for grazing spring-type cereals and within each paddock, up to 36 plots of four 2-m rows were
canola that are sown within the normal sowing window in pegged out. Row spacing varied from 0.16 to 0.30 m, with
WA. Although farms in WA are larger, and the proportion of most sites (97%) having spacing 0.20 cm. The sites were
cropping generally higher, than in eastern states, the majority of visited up to six times to establish the different cutting
southern WA grain farms remain as mixed crop–livestock treatments. Plants were cut by hand with knives or secateurs
enterprises where winter pasture growth limits livestock at various heights and plant material was retained for
production. Grazing is known to delay flowering, and this, estimation of dry matter. The cutting height treatments
together with insufficient biomass to facilitate recovery, can included (i) ground level, which usually left 2–3 cm of crop
reduce the yield of grazed crops (Virgona et al. 2006; above the ground; (ii) a height of 5 cm above ground level;
Kirkegaard et al. 2012). Water spared in winter by reduced (iii) a height 10 cm above ground level; (iv) a height of
transpiration in grazed crops may provide advantages in dry 15–20 cm above ground level; (v) 5–10 cm of crop removed
spring seasons. The potential to graze spring crops, and the from the top of the canopy, referred to as ‘take 5 cm’;
crop and grazing management required to avoid yield loss, are and (vi) an uncut control. The cutting treatments were
therefore of interest. applied to plots (four rows of 2 m) and the central two rows
Our initial approach to providing such information was were retained, dried in a force-draught 758C oven and weighed.
to conduct a large number of cutting experiments within The biomass remaining after cutting was calculated by
commercially managed fields throughout WA and to include difference between the biomass cut from each treatment
a range of time and height-of-cutting treatments to simulate (ii–vi) and that cut at ground level (i).
different levels of grazing intensity. ‘Crash grazing’ is a term
that refers to heavy and rapid grazing by animals at high
stocking rates that leaves 5 cm of residual crop biomass. Crop measurements and statistical analyses
‘Clip grazing’ refers to lighter grazing at lower stocking rates At each visit, in addition to the biomass measurements on the
or for shorter periods where only the top 5–10 cm of foliage relevant cutting treatments described above, the canopy height,
is removed from the plants. Both strategies are used both crop growth stage (e.g. leaf, tiller and node number) and height
experimentally and commercially in the eastern states of of the developing ear in cereals of uncut plants were recorded.
Australia to refine grazing management (Harrison et al. Growth stages for cereals followed the Zadoks decimal code
2011; Dove and Kirkegaard 2014). In the present (Zadoks et al. 1974), and for canola we used a modified version
investigations, we used defoliation by cutting rather than of that published by the Canola Council of Canada wherein
sheep grazing to create a large number of repeatable Z11–Z1x indicated vegetative stage and leaf number, Z21–Z2x
treatments reliably across multiple sites as a first step in indicated bud visible and length (cm) of extension of the bud,
defining appropriate grazing management in WA. The data Z30–Z3x indicated bud elongating from top of canopy and
collected were used to test three hypotheses: (i) treatments percentage of final stem length, and Z60–Z6x indicated the
simulating crash grazing will reduce the yields of spring percentage of flowers open.
cultivars; (ii) treatments simulating clip grazing will reduce At maturity, the middle 1 m of the central two rows of each
yields to a lesser extent than crash grazing; (iii) grazing past plot was hand-harvested at ground level and the total biomass
hollow stem stage (Zadoks growth stage 30; Zadoks et al. and grain yield were determined. For analysis and presentation,
1974) and/or the end of July will reduce grain yield in all and to normalise results across sites, grain yield was expressed
treatments. By testing the hypotheses and comparing crop as a percentage of the nearest uncut controls.
responses across sites, management (e.g. sowing times) GENSTAT for Windows V 16.0 (GENSTAT 2013) was used to
and environmental conditions, we aimed to develop perform multi-site restricted maximum likelihood analysis
guidelines for the grazing of spring-type cereals and canola (REML) on treatment yield data. In most analyses, data were
in WA that would limit grain yield losses. grouped and the groupings used as fixed effects in the REML
analyses. Groupings included time of cutting, crop species,
rainfall zone, and ‘safe to graze’. The five time-of-cutting
Materials and methods
groups were: before 30 June; 1–15 July; 15–30 July; 1–15
Treatments and experimental design August; and after15 August. Safe-to-graze groups were: yes,
In 2012, the sites for individual time  height-of-cutting wherein the crop had not started to elongate or if the crop had
experiments were selected in 59 commercial fields throughout begun elongation, the cutting was above the developing ear
the south-west of Western Australia spanning low, medium and and/or flowers; and no, where cutting removed or damaged
high rainfall zones (<350, 350–500 and >500 mm annual rainfall, the ear and/or flowers. Sites were grouped according to rainfall
respectively; Table 1). The crops were bulk-sown and managed zones of low, medium and high (<350, 350–500 and >500 mm
by farmers using recommended commercial management. average annual rainfall, respectively). Unless otherwise
The individual experiments were a partially replicated design stipulated, all models used site as the random effect in the
in which the cut treatments were not replicated but the uncut multi-site REML analyses.
Defoliation intensity  timing impacts in spring-type crops Crop & Pasture Science 289

Table 1. Site details of time of cutting trials conducted throughout Western Australian in 2012
Soil type as per Stace et al. (1968). GSR, Growing-season rainfall (May–October); LTA, long-term average (1974–2012)

Location Soil type Cultivar Sowing date GSR rainfall (mm)


2012 LTA GSR 2012 as % of LTA
Barley
Badgebup Brown loamy earth Vlamingh 10 May 209 275 76
Dudinin Red clay loam Buloke 1 May 170 247 69
Gibson Shallow duplex Baudin 14 June 302 419 72
Gibson Shallow duplex Urambie 19 Apr. 302 419 72
Gnowangerup Grey loamy earth Baudin 19 May 347 265 131
Grass Patch NW Sandy loam duplex Gairdner 8 May 131 217 60
Hyden Red loamy earth Mundah 23 May 132 226 58
Jacup Brown shallow sandy duplex Baudin 20 June 177 277 64
Kellerberin Rocky red brown sandy loam Buloke 17 May 135 207 65
Kendenup Brown loamy earth Bass 26 May 316 368 86
Merredin Red brown earth Buloke 1 June 136 203 67
Nyabing Grey shallow sandy duplex Buloke 21 May 216 259 83
Pingrup Brown loamy earth Vlamingh 10 May 174 220 79
Salmon Gums Brown clay loam Gairdner 25 May 129 193 67
Scaddan Sandy loam duplex Hindmarsh 15 May 185 258 72
Wandering Red clay loam Buloke 14 May 341 421 81
Wandering Red clay loam Gairdner 17 May 341 421 81
Wittenoom Hills Sandy loam duplex Baudin 1 May 158 258 61
Wheat
Amelup Iron stone gravel Scout 23 May 218 251 87
Badgebup Grey loamy earth Mace 6 June 209 275 76
Broomehill Brown shallow sandy duplex Mace 5 June 244 301 81
Cascade Sandy loam duplex Mace 6 May 144 217 66
Dumbleyung Red clay loam Mace 4 June 177 223 79
Gibson Sandy duplex Mace 22 May 302 419 72
Gnowangerup Grey shallow sandy duplex Mace 5 June 347 265 131
Gnowangerup Grey loamy earth Mace 24 May 347 265 131
Gnowangerup Grey loamy earth Mace frosted 24 May 347 265 131
Grass Patch Sandy loam duplex Mace 17 May 162 217 74
Jacup Red brown non-cracking clay Mace 18 June 177 277 64
Kendenup Brown loamy gravel Mace 10 May 316 368 86
Kumarl Yellow sand, clay at 80 cm Gladius 5 May 129 193 67
Newdegate Grey shallow sandy duplex Wandering 1 May 136 234 58
Nyabing Brown deep sandy duplex Yitpi 14 May 216 259 83
Pingrup Grey loamy sand Mace 15 May 174 220 79
Pithara Sandy loam Mace 28 May 165 242 68
Salmon Gums Brown clay loam Eagle Rock 12 May 129 193 67
Scaddan Sandy loam duplex Derrimut 5 May 185 258 72
Tambellup Grey loamy earth Mace 24 May 220 296 74
Wickepin Pale deep sand Yitpi 2 June 169 282 60
Wittenoom Hills Sandy loam duplex Mace 10 May 158 258 61
Oats
Badgebup Grey shallow sand Carrolup 10 May 209 275 76
Broomehill Grey loamy earth Carrolup 2 June 244 301 81
Dudinin Red clay loam Yallara 1 May 170 247 69
Gnowangerup Grey loamy earth Kojonup 16 May 347 265 131
Katanning Grey shallow sandy duplex Wandering 12 June 274 326 84
Pingrup Grey loamy gravel Carrolup 10 May 174 220 79
Tambellup Grey shallow sand Wandering 2 June 220 296 74
Wandering Red clay loam Wandering 4 May 341 421 81
Canola
Amelup Loamy sand Crusher TT 29 Apr. 218 251 87
Amelup Clay loam Crusher TT 30 Apr. 218 251 87
Cunderdin Sandy loam over clay GT Viper 1 May 134 246 54
Gibson Sandy duplex ATR Cobbler 9 May 302 419 72
Gnowangerup Red loamy earth Hyola 404RR 8 May 347 265 131
(continued next page)
290 Crop & Pasture Science M. Seymour et al.

Table 1. (continued )

Location Soil type Cultivar Sowing date GSR rainfall (mm)


2012 LTA GSR 2012 as % of LTA
Grass Patch Sandy loam duplex CB Telfer TT 25 Apr. 131 217 60
Katanning Brown shallow sandy duplex ATR Cobbler 31 May 274 326 84
Kendenup Brown shallow loamy duplex Hyola 404RR 23 Apr. 316 368 86
Pingrup Yellow sandy earth ATR Cobbler 5 May 174 220 79
Tambellup Brown loamy earth Crusher TT 5 June 220 296 74
Wandering Red clay loam ATR Cobbler 1 May 341 421 81
Wittenoom Hills Sandy loam duplex GT Cobra 10 May 158 258 61
Wongan Hills Deep yellow loamy sand ATR Cobbler 24 Apr. 217 266 82

Results As cutting treatments were extended into August and


Barley September, residual dry matter required to avoid reduced grain
yield increased (Fig. 2, data from all treatments and sites that
Of the 17 barley sites, the majority (14) were sown in May, with did not reduce grain yield). Across all sites, there was a trend
growing-season rainfall (May–October) in 2012 below the long- for later safe cuts to be correlated with greater amounts of
term average at most sites (Table 1). residual dry matter (r2 = 0.52, P < 0.05). For example, in order
Examples of data collected from three of the barley for clip grazing in September to have no effect on grain yield,
experimental sites are shown in Fig. 1. At Scaddan (Fig. 1a.) >2.5 t ha–1 of residual biomass was required.
in the south-east of WA, complete removal of aboveground We removed 0.4 t ha–1 (s.e. = 0.1) of dry matter in the latest
biomass of spring barley cv. Hindmarsh (sown 15 May) clipping treatments that did not reduce grain yield (Table 2). The
reduced grain yield at most times of cutting (except for the range of dry matter was 0.1–0.9 t ha–1, and in seven of 17 sites,
earliest time of cutting on 14 June), and more residual biomass >0.4 t ha–1 of dry matter was removed. Crash-grazing treatments
reduced the effect. Cutting could be extended past Z30 (mid-July) that did not reduce grain yields were earlier in the year than
to the end of July if sufficient biomass was retained and the ear clipping treatments, and we removed on average 0.3 t ha–1
was not damaged or removed. Despite not removing the ear (s.e. = 0.1), with a range of 0.02–0.9 t ha–1. In three of 11 sites
and leaving >6 t ha–1 of biomass, grain yield was reduced when where crash grazing did not reduce grain yields, >0.4 t/ha of dry
cutting in August. matter was removed.
Another example from the south-east of WA is shown in
Fig. 1b, with cv. Gairdner barley grown at the low-rainfall site
north-west of Grass Patch. At this site, Gairdner barley was slow- Wheat
growing and stayed prostrate for an extended period, resulting Most of the 21 wheat sites were sown in May or the first week
in the developing ear remaining low in the canopy, which of June, with the exception of cv. Mace sown on the 18 June at
allowed for extended clip grazing past Z30 without reducing Jacup (Table 3). Two examples of cv. Mace wheat experiments
grain yield. The third example was from the Great Southern are shown in Fig. 3. In the first example (Fig. 3a), south of Grass
region at Pingrup, where cv. Vlamingh barley was sown on Patch in the Mallee region of the south-east of WA, we found
10 May (Fig. 1c). At this site, crash grazing (to ground level cutting cv. Mace at the 3-leaf stage to be too early, whereas grain
or leaving 5 cm) reduced yield at all times of cutting, whereas clip yield was unaffected by cutting treatments if cutting was delayed
grazing on 14 July (Z23), which left 10–15 cm of canopy (300 kg until the 5-leaf stage (3 July). By mid-July (Z16, 22) to early
ha–1 of dry matter), did not reduce yield but later times did. August (Z31), clipping treatments that avoided damaging the ear
Using similar information gathered from all 17 barley sites, had little or no effect on grain yield, whereas crash treatments
we ascertained the last safe dates and growth stages for crash tended to reduce grain yields. At the latest cutting on 14 August,
and clip grazing of barley for each site (Table 2). At 11 of the 17 all treatments reduced yield, and treatments that removed the
sites, crash grazing on at least one occasion did not reduce grain largest amount of biomass had the greatest effect on grain yield.
yield, whereas clip grazing was safe at one or more times of Similarly, at Wittenoom Hills, cutting treatments at the 4-leaf
cutting at all 17 sites. At the 11 sites where crash grazing did stage on 17 June had no negative effect on grain yield, whereas
not affect grain yield, clip grazing, which in most cases did not ground-level treatments at later cutting dates reduced yield
damage or remove the developing ear, extended the days of safe (Fig. 3b). However, leaving 5 cm of crop standing after cutting
grazing by an average of 20 days, with a range of 0–54 days. The until Z31 (11 July), and the clipping treatments, which did
average growth stage that resulted in no yield reduction for crash not damage the ear at later cutting dates (up to 8 August), all
grazing was Z23 (range Z13–Z35), whereas clip grazing at the maintained grain yield similar to uncut controls.
same 11 sites extended the growth stage to Z31 (first node). Results from all 21 wheat experiments (Table 3) indicated the
Including all sites where clip grazing did not affect grain yield average last safe growth stage to crash-graze wheat in 2012 was
extended the safe grazing growth stage to Z33 (range Z23–Z41), Z20 (range Z12–Z32), whereas the average latest safe date to
noting in these cases that treatment clipping heights were high crash-graze was 14 July (range 12 June–9 August for sowing
enough that the ear was not removed or damaged at all but one site dates before 7 June). At two wheat sites, Kumarl and Pingrup,
(cv. Baudin at Gibson). crash grazing reduced grain yield at all times of cutting. At
Defoliation intensity  timing impacts in spring-type crops Crop & Pasture Science 291

120 Kumarl, where cutting treatments on cv. Gladius were not


(a) 2.7 imposed until Z32 (17 July), cutting at ground level and
1.3
100 0 0.3
0.8
1.6 2.9 6.5 7.1 leaving 5 cm reduced yield, whereas clip grazing had no
0.2 0.8
0.2
1.7 6.0 6.4
effect. At Pingrup, crash-grazing treatments conducted on 14
80 0.02 July reduced grain yield by 12% (l.s.d. (P = 0.05) = 11%).
1.3
0
Clip-grazing treatments extended the average safe growth
3.9
60 0 stage of wheat to Z37 (median Z34, range 12–55) and the
3.5 average date of last grazing to 14 August, resulting in an
40 0
2.0 average extra 31 days of grazing. In order to gain the extra
1.3 3.3
31 days, the majority of cutting treatments removed only the
20 2.0 top 5–10 cm of crop and avoided damaging the wheat ear.
The results for wheat at all sites in 2012 were combined to
0 0
0 draw some general relationships (Fig. 4). Unlike barley, the
4-June 18-June 2-July 16-July 30-July 13-Aug. 27-Aug. residual biomass for wheat varied across the diverse sites, so
Zadok 15 16 31 32 34 41 was expressed as a percentage of uncut control treatments to
Ear at (cm): 0 0 5 12 29 45 normalise across the sites. Overall, cutting the crop after Z31
Crop height (cm): 15 22 28 40 60 70
required >70% of the biomass to be retained to avoid yield loss,
equal to 1–3 t ha–1 depending on location, whereas after Z40, the
140 requirement increased to >95%, equal to >3 t ha–1.
(b)
We removed 0.3 t ha–1 (s.e. = 0.1) of dry matter in the latest
0.0
0.9
Grain yield as a % of uncut control

120
crash-grazing treatments that did not reduce grain yield. The
100 0.02 0.1 0.3 1.1 2.3
1.4
range of dry matter was 0.1–1.4 t ha–1, and in 16 of 19 sites, <0.4 t
ha–1 of dry matter was removed. The treatments that simulated
0.1 0.6
0.2 2.0

80 clip grazing without affecting grain yield removed on average


0.3 t ha–1 (se = 0.04) of dry matter, with a range of 0.1–0.7 t ha–1.
0.9

60
0.1
0.0
In four of 20 sites where clip grazing did not reduce grain
40 0.0 yields, we removed >0.4 t ha–1 of dry matter, these being
‘leave 10 cm’ or ‘take 5 cm’ treatments.
0.0
20
0.0
Oats
0
4-June 18-June 2-July 16-July 30-July 13-Aug. 27-Aug. Data from the eight oat sites were used to determine, for each
Zadok 13 16 18 31 33
grazing treatment, the first and last dates when grain yields were
Ear at (cm): 0 0 1 1 12 not significantly different from ungrazed control plots; the
Crop height (cm): 7 10 11 15 25 growth stage and residual biomass were noted at those dates
120 (Table 4). In all instances where grazing did not affect grain
(c) yield, the developing ear was not damaged. We used this
0.3
100 0.1 0.5 0.8 1.6 information to determine the relationship between growth
0.0 0.3
stage–time of grazing and the residual biomass required to
0.2
80 0.7
1.4
ensure that no yield was lost. The analysis showed that
0.0
1.1
grazing from tillering (Z20) to the start of stem elongation
60
0.0
(Z30) required residual biomass to be increased from <0.5 to
0.6 ~1.0 t ha–1, and to extend grazing past Z32, >2.0 t ha–1 of residual
40 biomass was required by increasing cutting height (data not
0.0
shown, r2 = 0.62, P < 0.05). Similarly the same data showed
20 that to extend grazing past the end of July, residual biomass
(and by inference cutting height) had to be increased to
0 >1.5 t ha–1 (data not shown, r2 = 0.55, P < 0.05).
18-June 2-July 16-July 30-July 13-Aug.
Crash-grazing treatments that did not reduce grain yield of
Date cut oats removed, on average, 0.7 t ha–1 (range 0.1 to 1.6 t ha–1),
Zadok 12 23 25 31
whereas clip-grazing treatments (‘take 5 cm’ and ‘leave 10 or 15
Crop height (cm) 11 20 24 26
cm’ and ‘leave 20 cm’) that did not reduce the yield of oats
Fig. 1. Effect of time and height of cutting on the grain yield (as percentage removed 0.5 t ha–1 (range 0.2–1.3 t ha–1), with most ‘take 5 cm’
of uncut control) of barley at (a) Scaddan cv. Hindmarsh, (b) Grass Patch treatments removing only 0.2 t ha–1.
cv. Gairdner, and (c) Pingrup cv. Vlamingh in 2012. Cutting treatment data
(*) and uncut control plots (*). Text at bottom of graph indicates Zadoks Combined cereal data: multi-site REML
stage, height of the ear (cm) and height of the crop (cm) at time of cutting.
Values near data points indicate residual biomass following cutting (t ha–1). Data collected from wheat, barley and oat experiments were
Vertical bar indicates l.s.d. (P = 0.05) for comparisons between uncut controls combined (sites = 46, n = 993) to maximise the dataset for
and treatments. REML meta-analysis in order to define some general
292
Crop & Pasture Science

Table 2. Summary of 17 barley time-of cutting experiments conducted throughout Western Australia in 2012
GY, Grain yield (t ha–1); l.s.d., least significant difference at P = 0.05; LS date, last safe date (GYred., cutting treatment reduced grain yield); DAS, days after sowing; GS, Zadoks growth stage; ED, ear damage;
RDM, residual dry matter (t ha–1) of last safe cut; DMR, DM removed (t ha–1) by last safe cut; CropH, crop height when clipped (cm); ClipH, clipping height (cm); n.r., not recorded

Location Cultivar Ungrazed Crash treatments Clip treatments


GY l.s.d. (%) LS date DAS GS ED RDM DMR LS date DAS GS CropH Treatment ClipH ED RDM DMR
(cm)
Badgebup Vlamingh 2.2 14 27 June 48 13 No 0 0.2 1 Aug. 83 26 29 Leave 10 10 No 0.6 0.9
Dudinin Buloke 2.4 23 6 July 66 26 No 0.5 0.5 10 Aug. 101 33 30 Leave 20 20 No 1.9 0.5
Gibson Urambie 3.8 18 GYred. – – n.r. – – 15 Aug. 118 41 33 Leave 15 15 No 1.5 0.6
Gibson Baudin 2.2 20 3 Aug. 50 23 No 0.2 0.3 27 Aug. 74 31 22 Leave 10 10 Yes 0.9 1.0
Gnowangerup Baudin 3.8 9 GYred. – – n.r. – – 3 Sept. 107 37 45 Take 5 40 No 3.6 0.3
Grass Patch Gairdner 1.6 13 3 July 49 23 No 0 0.1 16 July 62 23 11 Take 5 6 No 0.2 0.9
Hyden Mundah 1.4 25 9 Aug. 78 35 Yes – – 9 Aug. – – – – – – 1.2 0.9
Jacup Baudin 2.9 8 GYred. – – n.r. – – 13 Sept. 85 39 n.r. Take 5 n.r. n.r. 4.8 0.3
Kellerberin Buloke 1.3 16 6 Aug. 81 25 No 0.3 0.1 6 Aug. – – – – – – 0.3 0.1
Kendenup Bass 3.8 12 GYred. – – n.r. – – 7 Sept. 104 39 43 Take 5 38 No 2.8 0.2
Nyabing Buloke 2.7 17 10 July 50 21 No 0.1 0.3 24 Aug. 95 32 44 Take 5 39 No 2.6 0.1
Pingrup Vlamingh 2 10 GYred. – – No – – 14 July 65 23 20 Leave 10 10 No 0.3 0.2
Salmon Gums Gairdner 1.5 21 28 June 34 13 No 0.04 0.02 21 Aug. 88 33 15 Take 5 10 No 3.3 0.2
Scaddan Hindmarsh 6.4 12 12 July 58 31 No 0.7 0.9 25 July 71 32 40 Take 5 35 No 2.7 0.2
Wandering Gairdner 3.9 15 6 July 50 22 No 0 0.3 6 July – – – – – – 0 0.3
Wandering Buloke 3 19 17 July 64 22 No 0.3 0.7 17 July – – – – – – 0.3 0.7
Wittenoom Hills Baudin 4.3 9 GYred. – – n.r. – – 11 July 71 32 35 Take 5 30 No 1.2 0.2
M. Seymour et al.
Defoliation intensity  timing impacts in spring-type crops Crop & Pasture Science 293

6 that both damaged the ear and reduced grain yield; these had a
Residual dry matter (t ha–1) of treatments

harvest index of 37.9% (l.s.d. (P = 0.05) = 1.0%, P < 0.01).


5
with no grain yield loss

4
Canola
The 13 canola sites were sown from 23 April to 5 June, with 11 of
3 the 13 sites being sown before 15 May (Table 5). Triazine-tolerant
(TT) canola was grown at nine sites and Roundup Ready® (RR) at
2 four sites. The maturity–flowering time of the varieties grown
was classified by their parent breeding companies as very early
1 (CB Telfer TT), early (GT Viper) early–early-mid (GT Cobra and
Hyola 404RR) and mid (Crusher TT). Canola flower buds, which
0 were visible 5 cm from base of the plant and were therefore
susceptible to damage, were evident from cutting growth stage
02-July 16-July 30-July 13-Aug. 27-Aug. 10-Sep. 24-Sep. Z25 onwards. This stage occurred, on average, 87 days after
sowing, ranging from 76 days for cv. CB Telfer at Grass Patch to
Date of cut
97 days for cv. Crusher TT at Amelup. Grain yields of uncut
Fig. 2. Residual dry matter (t ha ) required to maintain barley grain –1
control plots ranged from 0.7 to 3.0 t ha–1, averaging 1.8 t ha–1 for
yield increases as the date of cutting is delayed: y = 0.05x – 2096, both TT and RR canola cultivars.
r2 = 0.52, P < 0.05. At 11 of the 13 canola sites, cutting at ground level reduced
grain yield at all cutting times (Table 5). The exceptions were
Tambellup and Kendenup, where cutting at ground level at the
relationships between cereal growth stage, residual biomass, 3–4-leaf stage had no significant effect on grain yield.
time and height of cutting, and grain yield. This analysis However, similar treatments at later times and growth stages at
showed that as the time of cutting was delayed (Fig. 5), and Tambellup and Kendenup reduced yield. Similarly, cutting at
the crops developed (Fig. 6), cutting treatments that simulated 5 cm above ground level also led to grain yield losses in 37 of 42
crash grazing caused a greater reduction in grain yield of cereals. time  site instances (88% of instances), such that at eight of
For example, ground-level cutting reduced yield at all times or the13 sites, there was no safe time to cut canola to 5 cm without
stages of cutting, whereas leaving 5 cm of crop maintained yield yield loss. The two treatments that had the least effect on grain
up until mid-July/tillering, but yields were steadily reduced at yield in canola were the ‘take 5 cm’ and ‘leave 10–15 cm’, which
later growth stages or times in all treatments. In general, yield had no effect on yield when applied to at least one growth stage
reductions as a result of crash treatments were lowest in high- at eight and 10 sites, respectively. Removing 5–10 cm from the
rainfall sites (75% of uncut control), compared with 50% in top of the canola reduced grain yield in 48% of instances, which
low-rainfall sites and 58% in medium-rainfall sites, with was the smallest number of instances of all treatment  time
differences between rainfall zones reduced as cutting height combinations.
was increased (data not shown). Multi-site analysis showed a clear trend of reduced grain yield
At the start of stem elongation (Z30), treatments that of canola as treatments occurred later in the growing season and
removed 5 cm off the top of the canopy, left 10 cm of dry matter removed increased (Fig. 7). The exception was ‘take
standing crop, and left 15–20 cm of crop produced similar 5 cm’, which had a similar, flat response over the whole season.
yields. However, the ‘take 5 cm’ treatment was the only Yield reductions were closely related to dry matter recovery and
treatment to maintain yield at growth stages later than Z30 dry matter at maturity. Treatments that had no effect on grain yield
and/or later than the end of July. This treatment avoided damage produced, on average, 5.8 t ha–1 of dry matter at maturity, whereas
to the ear and limited biomass removal, retaining on average treatments that reduced yield produced 3.0 t ha–1. If cutting did not
>70% of the biomass of uncut controls. Delayed cutting to Z31 damage the growing point of canola, the harvest index was not
had a significant effect on yield in all other treatments because affected, but if cutting damaged or removed the growing point,
of the greater likelihood of removal of, or damage to, the ears then both dry matter (2.6 t ha–1) at maturity and harvest index
(Fig. 6). (16%) were reduced.
For all treatments, there were statistically significant, linear In order to avoid a yield decrease, we found that residual dry
relationships between total dry matter at maturity and grain yield matter increased with the growth stage of canola (data not shown),
(r2 > 0.8, P < 0.001), indicating that biomass recovery from such that at the start of the bud initiation stage (6–10-leaf),
cutting had a significant influence on final yield. For example, ~600 kg ha–1 of residual dry matter (50% of uncut controls)
treatments that reduced grain yield produced, on average, was required, whereas at the start of stem elongation, this
3.6 t ha–1 of dry matter at maturity, compared with 5.2 t ha–1 increased to 60% of uncut controls, equivalent to an average
for treatments that did not reduce grain yield (l.s.d. residual dry matter of 1 t ha–1 in 2012.
(P = 0.05) = 0.2 t ha–1, P < 0.001). Cutting later in the year or We removed 0.4 t ha–1 (s.e. = 0.1) of dry matter in the latest
at advanced growth stages also reduced dry matter at maturity, crash-grazing treatments that did not reduce canola grain yield
with the exception of the ‘take 5 cm’ treatments, which had no (‘leave 5 cm’ treatments, Table 5). The range of dry matter
significant effect (P > 0.05) on final dry matter. Harvest index removed by crash grazing was 0.01–0.6 t ha–1. The treatments
was, on average, 39.3% for cereals in 2012, except in treatments simulating clip grazing (‘take 5 cm’) without affecting grain yield
294

Table 3. Summary of wheat time of cutting experiments conducted throughout WA in 2012


Crop & Pasture Science

GY, Grain yield (t ha–1); l.s.d., least significant difference at P = 0.05; LS date, last safe date (GYred., cutting treatment reduced grain yield); DAS, days after sowing; GS, Zadoks growth stage; ED,
ear damage; RDM, residual dry matter (t ha–1) of last safe cut; DMR, DM removed (t ha–1) by last safe cut; CropH, crop height when clipped (cm); ClipH, clipping height (cm)

Location Var. Sow Ungrazed Crash treatments Clip treatments


date GY l.s.d.(%) LS date DAS GS ED RDM DMR LS date DAS GS CropH Treatment ClipH ED RDM DMR
(cm)
Amelup Scout 23 May 3.3 13 12 July 50 22 No 0.1 0.3 24 Aug. 93 32 45 Take 5 40 No 2.9 0.1
Badgebup Mace 6 June 3.1 21 16 July 40 12 No 0.05 0.1 10 Sept. 96 39 45 Take 5 40 No 2.2 0.1
Broomehill Mace 5 June 3.1 14 2 Aug. 58 23 No 0.1 0.2 2 Aug. – – – – – – 0.2 0.1
Cascade Mace 6 May 2.4 21 16 July 71 31 Yes 0.6 0.3 14 Aug. 100 47 55 Take 5 50 No 3.8 0.2
Dumbleyung Mace 4 June 1.8 18 20 July 46 23 No 0 0.2 16 Aug. 73 34 40 Leave 20 20 No 0.8 0.2
Gibson Mace 22 May 3.2 9 21 June 30 13 No 0 0.1 27 Aug. 97 55 80 Take 5 75 No 3.6 0.3
Gnowangerup Mace 5 June 2.5 11 9 Aug. 65 16 No 0 0.7 9 Aug. – – – – – – 0.6 0.1
Gnowangerup Mace 24 May 2.3 14 14 July 51 32 No 0 0.2 16 Aug. 84 37 32 Leave 10 10 Yes 0.4 0.6
Gnowangerup Mace 24 May 2.2 7 14 July 51 12 No 0.1 0.2 14 July – – – – – – 0.1 0.2
Grass Patch Mace 17 May 1.7 12 16 July 60 16,22 No 0.3 0.2 1 Aug. 76 31 30 Leave 10 20 No 0.3 0.7
Jacup Mace 18 June 1.4 25 14 Aug. 39 23 No 0.2 0.2 29 Aug. 72 30 40 Leave 10 10 No 0.7 0.3
Kendenup Mace 10 May 4.7 17 18 June 39 13 No 0 0.2 15 Aug. 97 37 51 Take 5 46 No 3.0 0.3
Kumarl Gladius 5 May 1.5 26 GYred. – – – – – 1 Aug. 88 33 35 Take 5 30 No 1.8 0.2
Nyabing Yitpi 14 May 2.3 16 29 June 46 12 No 0 0.1 23 Aug. 101 33 39 Take 5 34 No 1.5 0.1
Pingrup Mace 15 May 2.8 11 GYred. – – – – – 14 Aug. 91 31 34 Take 5 29 No 1.1 0.5
Pithara Mace 28 May 1.2 16 30 July 31 18 No 0.2 0.1 30 July – – – – – – – –
Salmon Gums Eagle Rock 12 May 1.8 23 12 June 68 21 No 0 0.1 21 Aug. 101 43 50 Take 5 45 No 5.0 0.2
Scaddan Derrimut 5 May 4.7 17 12 July 50 23 No 0 1.4 21 Aug. 108 41 65 Take 10 55 No 5.5 0.5
Tambellup Mace 24 May 4.5 6 13 July 68 12 No 0 0.1 12 Aug. 80 26 28 Take 5 23 No 0.9 0.3
Wickepin Yitpi 2 June 1.1 17 9 Aug. 50 25 No 0.1 0.3 24 Aug. 83 32 20 Take 5 15 No 0.9 0.3
Wittenoom Hills Mace 10 May 2.5 21 29 June 50 23 No 0.1 0.5 8 Aug. 90 41 53 Take 5 48 No 2.3 0.05
M. Seymour et al.
Defoliation intensity  timing impacts in spring-type crops Crop & Pasture Science 295

120 120

Residual dry matter (% of uncut control)


(a) 0.1
0.4 0.8

of treatments with no grain yield loss


0.02 100
100 0.04 0.0 0.2 1.0
0.1 0.5 2.1
0.3
0.3 0.4
0.01 0.0
80 80
0.0 2.0
0.3 1.0
60
60 0.0 0.7

40
0.4
40
20
Grain yield as a % of uncut control

20
0.0
0
0
11-June 25-June 9-July 23-July 6-Aug. 20-Aug.
0 10 20 30 40 50 60
Zadok 13 15 16 31 38
Zadoks decimal growth stage
Ear height (cm) 0 0 1 6 20
Crop height (cm) 7 12 18 30 45
Fig. 4. Residual dry matter (as percentage of uncut control) required to
140
maintain wheat grain yield increases as the crop develops.
(b)
0.8 2.3
120 0.1
pulling plants out of the ground (Land and Water Australia 2008);
0.6
0.0 0.5 0.5 1.3
however, our work highlights the potential for yield reductions
100 0.2 0.6 2.3
0.9 0.5
1.1 even if the young plants remain anchored. Similarly, numerous
0.1
80
0.04
workers have previously identified the potential for yield
1.2
0.3
reductions if crash grazing or cutting near ground level occurs
0.0 0.7
60 0.0 during stem elongation of both cereals (Dann 1968; Redmon et al.
0.01 1996) and broadleaf crops (Dann et al. 1977; Kirkegaard et al.
40 2008). In this study, cutting at ground level at the commencement
0.0 0.1

0.0 of stem elongation of cereals reduced yield by an average of 53%.


20
If cutting height was increased to 5 cm at the commencement of
0 stem elongation, then cereal yields were reduced by 26%.
11-June 25-June 9-July 23-July 6-Aug. Simulation of crash grazing by cutting at ground level or at
Date cut 5 cm when cereals were past the commencement of stem
elongation led to even larger yield reductions. Similarly, in
Zadok 14 16 31 33 41
Ear height (cm) 0 0 5 13 20
canola, ground-level cutting treatments led to a yield reduction
Crop height (cm) 12 18 21 30 53 regardless of timing, suggesting that it is never safe to graze
canola to that extent in WA. In some instances, primarily the very
Fig. 3. Effect of time and height of cutting on the grain yield (as percentage early times of cutting (e.g. canola at 3-leaf stage), the plants failed
of uncut control) of wheat cv. Mace at (a) Grass Patch sown 17 May and
to recover at all, apparently because the growing points of the
(b) Wittenoom Hills sown 10 May 2012. Cutting treatment data (*) and
uncut control plots (*). Text at bottom of graph indicates Zadoks stage,
canola had been irreparably damaged or removed. In most
height of the ear (cm) and height of the crop (cm) at time of cutting. Values instances, we were cutting the plants at 2–3 cm and the crop
near data points indicate residual biomass following cutting (t ha–1). Vertical did recover, but not sufficiently to generate the yields attained in
bar indicates l.s.d. (P = 0.05) for comparisons between uncut controls and the uncut control plots. Canola also struggled to recover
treatments. adequately from cutting at 5 cm in our study when the cutting
took place later than the end of June, or from cutting at 10 cm if
cutting took place past the middle of July. Kirkegaard et al. (2012)
removed, on average, 0.3 t ha–1 (se = 0.04) of dry matter, with a
reported similar findings with canola in grazing experiments in
range of 0.1–0.5 t ha–1. In six of 11 sites where clip grazing did
Canberra and southern New South Wales, where recovery from
not reduce grain yields, <0.3 t ha–1 of dry matter was removed.
grazing past the middle of July was found to be sensitive to
residual biomass, recovery time and seasonal conditions. Overall,
Discussion heavy grazing (to 5 cm height or lower) of spring canola in WA
In this study, the intensity and timing of simulated grazing by is not recommended, and in cereals, it would only be advised
cutting had a large effect on the grain yield response of spring early (before Z30) where no damage to the ears occurs, and a
cereals and canola. Simulated crash grazing by cutting at ground residual of at least 5 cm of foliage would be the minimum.
level or leaving only 5 cm of residual crop foliage often reduced To extend grazing past Z30 in cereals or flower buds near the
the yield of crops, particularly if cutting was conducted either top of canopy in canola (past mid-July in both), it was necessary to
too early (before 4–6 leaf stage) or too late (during stem increase the height of cutting to >10 cm, and the best results were
elongation). Current industry-accepted guidelines are to avoid obtained by clipping the crops. In our study, clipping was defined
grazing before the 3–4 leaf stage, primarily to avoid animals as removing the top 5–10 cm of crop foliage (e.g. a mouthful for
296

Table 4. Summary of oats time-of-cutting experiments conducted throughout Western Australia in 2012
Crop & Pasture Science

GY, Grain yield; GYred., cutting treatment reduced grain yield; n.t., no treatment applied at that date; ED, treatment had damaged or removed ear

Location: Badegebup Broomehill Dudinin Gnowangerup Katanning Pingrup Tambellup Wandering

Cultivar: Carrolup Carrolup Yallara Kojonup Wandering Carrolup Wandering Wandering


Sowing date: 10 May 2 June 1 May 16 May 12 June 10 May 2 June 4 May
Cutting started: 27 June 17 July 11 June 21 June 17 July 16 June 13 July 13 June
Uncut GY (t ha–1): 3.7 2.7 1.9 4.5 2.9 1.7 3.3 3.7
Treatment Date, Zadoks growth stage, residual dry matter (t ha–1)
Ground level First safe date GYred. GYred. GYred. GYred. 17 July, Z12, 0 GYred. GYred. 13 June, Z21, 0
Last safe date GYred. GYred. GYred. GYred. 17 July, Z12, 0 GYred. GYred. 06 July, Z23, 0
Leave 5 cm First safe date GYred. GYred. GYred. 14 July, 16 Aug., Z25, 0.7 16 June, Z12, 0.1 12 Aug., 13 June, Z21, 0.04
Z24, 1.0 Z24, 0.2
Last safe date GYred. GYred. GYred. 14 July, 16 Aug., Z25, 0.7 16 June, Z12, 0.1 12 Aug., 02 Aug., Z31, 0.2
Z24, 1.0 Z24, 0.2
Leave First safe date GYred. 02 Aug, 21 June, 14 July, 16 Aug., Z25, 1.0 30 July, Z24, 0.7 12 Aug., 06 July, Z23, 0.3
10–15 cm Z21, 0.7 Z22, 0.1 Z24, 0.6 Z24, 0.6
Last safe date GYred. 15 Aug, 10 Aug., 14 July, 16 Aug., Z25, 1.0 30 July, Z24, 0.7 12 Aug., 02 Aug., Z31, 0.8
Z31, 1.0 Z33, 0.6 Z24, 0.6 Z24, 0.6
Leave 20 cm First safe date GYred. n.t. 16 July, Z30, 1 14 July, n.t. n.t. GYred. 17 July, Z26, 0.6
Z24, 0.7
Last safe date GYred. n.t. 10 Aug., 30 July, n.t. n.t. GYred. 16 Aug., Z32, 1.5
Z33, 1.3 Z31, 1.1
Take 5 cm First safe date 16 July, 02 Aug., 21 June, 14 July, 02 Aug., Z21, 0.8 14 Aug., Z31, 2.2 27 July, Z22, 0.1 06 July, Z23, 0.3
Z23, 1.7 Z21, 0.8 Z22, 0.1 Z24, 1.0
Last safe date 14 Aug., 07 Sept., 10 Aug., 16 Aug., 07 Sept., Z33, 3.3 14 Aug., Z31, 2.2 07 Sept., 16 Aug., Z32, 1.1
Z33, 4.3 Z37, 4.0 Z33, 1.3 Z32, 3.0 Z37, 2.9 (ED)
M. Seymour et al.
Defoliation intensity  timing impacts in spring-type crops Crop & Pasture Science 297

approach to grazing crops in WA if minimising grain yield


Grain yield as a percentage of uncut control (%)

100
55 77 reduction is the aim. It may also be of benefit to the animals
58 75 85 93
39
69 68 grazing the crop because the digestibility and nutritive value of
34 66
80
the top leaf material is likely to be higher than stem and older
37 62
leaf material further down in the canopy (Cherney and Marten
48
56 1982; Dove and Milne 2006). Clip grazing is also less likely to
60 24 open up the canopy of cereals, which can allow grass weeds such
41 as annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidum) access to light, water and
nutrients; this is seen by some as a weakness of dual-purpose
20
40 Ground level crops in mixed-farming systems where grass weed control is
Leave 5 cm
Leave 10 cm
paramount (Radcliffe et al. 2011).
Leave 15 to 20 cm Clip grazing may also be a system more in tune with the
20 Take off 5 cm stocking densities prevalent in WA. In 2011–12 in WA, there
were, on average, 1.7 sheep for each ha of winter crop sown for
grain, compared with 2.8 sheep in South Australia, 4.6 in New
0
South Wales and Victoria, and 96 in the Australian Capital
e

g.

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Territory (ABS 2013a). In the key mixed-farming areas of


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average, 3 Mha of crop each year, stocking density in 2011–12


<

Date group
was 1.9 sheep ha–1 sown winter crop (3-year average = 2.0). In the
Fig. 5. Relationship between the time (date groups) and height of cutting higher rainfall, southern agricultural regions typified by shires
(as per legend) and the grain yield of cereals (wheat, barley and oats) expressed such as Kojonup, the intensity of stocking sheep increased to
as a percentage of uncut treatment yields from 46 sites in Western Australia in 3.5 in 2011–12 (3-year average = 3.6; ABS 2013b). These
2012. Residual biomass (% of uncut controls) at the time of cutting is shown relationships between sheep numbers and area cropped
beside the symbols; l.s.d. for same height of cutting = 13% and for same time
indicate that in most instances, farmers in WA use much
of cutting = 17%.
higher ratio of crop area to stock than do their counterparts in
eastern states. Additionally, the demographics of the WA sheep
120 flock have changed since 1990, with a substantial switch away
from mature wethers, which comprised 32% of the sheep flock in
Grain yield as a % of uncut controls

100
1990 and 11% in 2013, to a ewe-dominant flock, which increased
from 45% to 63% over the same period (ABARES 2014). As a
result, crash grazing with other than ewes with lambs at foot is
80
not always feasible. Because of the lower stocking rates in WA,
lighter clip grazing may become the normal situation, and it
60 appears that grazing could be safely extended in time. Grazing to
5 cm limits grazing until mid-July, lighter grazing to 10 cm
40 extends grazing until the end of July, and removing only the
Ground level
Leave 5 cm top 5–10 cm of crop foliage may extend grazing for a
Leave 10 cm further week. Pasture growth rates in WA in May and June are
20 Leave 15 to 20 cm
Take off 5 cm typically 0–20 kg DM ha–1 day–1, increasing rapidly to 20–40 kg
DM ha–1 day–1 by the end of July (Donald et al. 2004), by which
0 time the accumulated biomass and daily pasture growth rates are
0 15 20 25 30 35 40 45
more able to support late-winter and spring grazing. Given the
Zadoks decimal growth stage
extensive crop area in WA and the ewe-dominant flock, it is
Fig. 6. Relationship between growth stage of cereals (wheat, barley and feasible to assume that clip grazing at an appropriately low
oats) and grain yield (% of uncut controls, REML means) for a range of cutting stocking rate will allow lambing ewes to graze crops from the
treatments (see legend); l.s.d. for same height of cutting = 17% and for same 4-leaf stage until after stem elongation for a period of 3–5 weeks.
growth stage of cutting = 19%. This approach would meet the high nutritional demands of the
ewes without the need to provide supplementary feed or to move
grazing animals), and we showed that clipping at later times lambing ewes during lambing, a practice reported to increase
removed, on average, a similar amount of dry matter to crash lamb mortality through increased mismothering and starvation
grazing earlier. For example, early grazing treatments that (Murphy 1999).
did not affect yield and simulated crash grazing of barley Similarly, clip grazing, which extends the safe grazing period
removed 0.3 t ha–1 of dry matter, whereas later clip treatments of crops in WA, may lead to whole farm-system benefits. Because
removed 0.4 t ha–1. Similarly, wheat that was crash-grazed the safe grazing date was increased by 1–4 weeks, clip grazing
early removed 0.3 t ha–1 and clipping removed 0.3 t ha–1; oats potentially allows a greater total period of grazing and increasing
crash-grazed 0.7 t ha–1 and clip-grazed 0.5 t ha–1; and canola flexibility in the farm system. This adds value to the whole farm
crash-grazed 0.4 t ha–1 and clip-grazed 0.3 t ha–1. We suggest system and whole farm profit, not just the gross margin of crop or
that clip grazing of spring-type crops may be the most suitable livestock. The extra value of clip grazing in the farming system is
298

Table 5. Summary of canola time of cutting experiments conducted throughout Western Australia in 2012
UGY, Uncut grain yield; GYred., cutting treatment reduced grain yield; n.t., no treatment applied at that date; ED, treatment had damaged or removed flower parts
Crop & Pasture Science

Location: Amelup Amelup Cunderdin Gibson Gnowangrup Grass Patch Katanning Kendenup Pingrup Tambellup Wandering Wittenoom Wongan Hills
Hills

Variety: Crusher TT Crusher GT ATR Cobbler Hyola CB Telfer TT ATR Cobbler Hyola 404RR ATR Cobbler Crusher TT ATR Cobbler GT Cobra ATR Cobbler
TT Viper 404RR
Sowing 29 Apr. 30 Apr. 1 May 9 May 8 May 25 Apr. 31 May 23 Apr. 5 May 5 June 1 May 10 May 24 Apr.
date:
Cutting 13 June 22 June 27 June 21 June 21 June 14 June 17 July 18 June 15 June 13 July 13 June 17 June 13 June
started:
UGY 2.2 1.6 0.7 2.2 1.4 0.8 2.4 2.6 0.7 2.2 3 2.3 1.1
(t ha–1):

Treatment Date, Zadoks development stage, residual dry matter and dry matter removed (t ha–1)
Ground First safe GYred. GYred. GYred. GYred. GYred. GYred. GYred. 18 June, Z14, GYred. 13 July, GYred. GYred. GYred.
level date 0, 0.1 Z13, 0
Last safe GYred. GYred. GYred. GYred. GYred. GYred. GYred. 18 June, Z14, GYred. 13 July, GYred. GYred. GYred.
date 0, 0.1 Z13, 0
Leave First safe GYred. GYred. GYred. GYred. GYred. 14 June, Z13, GYred. GYred. 03 July, Z15, GYred. 06 July, Z18, 17 June, Z12, 02 July, Z17,
5 cm date 0.2, 0.3 0.1, 0.2 0.5, 0.5 0.0, 0.1 0.6, 0.6
Last safe GYred. GYred. GYred. GYred. GYred. 28 June, Z20, GYred. GYred. 03 July, Z15, GYred. 06 July, Z18, 29 June, Z14, 02 July,
date 0.4, 0.7 0.1, 0.2 0.5, 0.5 0.1, 0.1 Z17, 0.6, 0.6
Leave First safe 27 July, Z30, GYred. 23 July, Z17, 17 July, Z18, 13 July, Z16, 10 July, Z30, GYred. GYred. 03 July, Z15, GYred. 22 June, Z18, GYred. 02 July,
10 cm date 0.9, 0.7 1.6, 0.1 0.4, 0.6 0.2, 0.7 0.9, 1.3 0.1, 0.2 0.2, 0.2 Z17, 0.8, 0.4
Last safe 27 July, Z30, GYred. 23 July, Z17, 17 July, Z18, 13 July, Z16, 10 July, Z30, GYred. GYred. 30 July, Z16, GYred. 06 July, Z18, GYred. 02 July,
date 0.9, 0.7 1.6, 0.1 0.4, 0.6 0.2, 0.7 0.9, 1.3 0.7, 0.7 0.8, 0.2 Z17, 0.8, 0.4
Leave First safe n.t. GYred. n.t. 15 Aug., Z65, n.t. GYred. GYred. n.t. n.t. GYred. 17 July, Z20, n.t. GYred.
20 cm date 1.5, 1.2 (ED) 1.1, 0.5
Last safe n.t. GYred. n.t. 15 Aug., Z65, n.t. GYred. GYred. n.t. n.t. GYred. 17 July, Z20, n.t. GYred.
date 1.5, 1.2 1.1, 0.5
Take First safe 27 July, Z30, GYred. 06-Aug., Z65, 06 July, Z15, 13 July, Z16, 25 July, Z65, GYred. 06 July, Z15, 15 June, Z14, GYred. 02 Aug., Z33, 17 June, Z12, 02 July,
5 cm date 1.1, 0.5 3.3, 0.3 (ED) 0.1, 0.2 0.7, 0.2 3.5, 0.4 (ED) 0.1, 0.2 0.1, 0.2 2.3, 0.4 (ED) 0.0, 0.1 Z17, 0.9, 0.3
Last safe 11-Aug, Z62, GYred. 06 Aug., Z65, 15 Aug., Z65, 13 July, Z16, 25 July, Z65, GYred. 03 Aug., Z61, 30 July, Z35, GYred. 16 Aug., Z61, 29 June, Z14, 02 July,
date 2.3, 0.6 (ED 3.3, 0.3 (ED) 2.3, 0.4 (ED) 0.7, 0.2 3.5, 0.4 (ED) 1.8, 0.7 (ED) 1.1, 0.3 (ED) 2.9, 0.1 (ED) 0.1, 0.1 Z17, 0.9, 0.3
M. Seymour et al.
Defoliation intensity  timing impacts in spring-type crops Crop & Pasture Science 299

Canola opening up new areas of the crop to cattle (Ryan and Seymour
Grain yield as a percentage of uncut control (%)

100 2012). Clipping is likely to be technically more difficult with


sheep, particularly as the crop height increases; however, Dann
34
35 46
70 87
et al. (1977) reported success with sheep clipping cereals to 10 cm
80 51
59
in their ‘lenient grazing’ treatments. Nevertheless, farmers
63
attempting to clip-graze crops with sheep will likely have to
25 Ground level
Leave 5 cm
accept some ‘hot spots’ of high-intensity grazing and overgrazing
60 43 near camping and watering points. Local grower experience
Leave 10 cm
Leave 15 to 20 cm
Take off 5 cm
concurs with our experimental results, suggesting that when
16 stocking at densities where the bulk of the crop is clip-grazed,
40 49
up to 50% of yield loss can occur in 10% of the paddock in hot-
57 spot areas. However, the extra area sown to crop in lieu of pasture
38
20 21 more than outweighs these losses at the whole-farm scale (Luke
Ledwith, pers. comm., 2013).
47
14
Although clip grazing is attractive to growers seeking to
0 minimise damage to their crops and maximise animal
production, there are some potential weaknesses compared
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diseased leaf material than crash grazing, and hence will not
<

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Vegetative Bud vis. Elongating Bud at Canopy to Flowering reduce the spread of foliar diseases; crash grazing has been shown
to be a useful management technique with barley crops infected
Fig. 7. Relationship between the time of cutting (date groups, with
with powdery mildew (Blumeria graminis f.sp. hordei) in WA
associated approximate growth stage), height of cutting (as per legend)
and the grain yield of canola expressed as a percentage of uncut treatment (Hills 2011). Similarly, clip grazing will not delay the flowering
yields from 13 sites in Western Australia in 2012. Residual biomass (% of time of cereals to the same extent as crash grazing, and therefore,
uncut controls) at the time of cutting is shown beside the symbols; l.s.d. for will not be a useful management option in frost-prone areas to
same height of cutting = 23% and for same time of cutting = 27%. delay advanced crops as described in Lee and Curtin (2013). This
is less likely to be an issue for crops sown in the normal window
for grain production, which has been the focus of this study.
the value of the extra biomass grazed after the safe crash-grazing However, farmers with low stock numbers in WA will need to
date has passed. This value is only realised if the farming system is crash-graze paddocks and varieties selectively if they wish to use
modified to take advantage of the extra available feed. Alterations grazing to reduce disease pressure or delay flowering.
of the farming system to capture this benefit may include Inevitably, the mix of clip and crash grazing will change on-
increased crop area, increased stock numbers, improved farm as crop species and variety choices change, and as climatic
pasture manipulation opportunities, and changes to time of and personal circumstances change. Indeed, because farmers in
lambing. The extension of grazing windows and changes to WA have extensive crop areas, they may choose to leave stock on
the system may also add value to the enterprise, for example, selected sacrificial paddocks during elongation or post-
through increased growth rates in lambs clip-grazing crops before elongation and accept a yield penalty if the value of the grazed
sale; increased lambing percentages when grazing at lower forage outweighs that of the yield loss at the whole-farm scale
stocking rates right through lambing without the need to shift (Bell et al. 2009).
mobs; improved legume pasture performance and in turn reduced
weed issues and increased N availability for the following crop Conclusions
phase by spelling pastures; and reduced problems from sheep
worms and grass seed in lambs. We tested three hypotheses regarding the feasibility of grazing
In terms of pasture spelling, the crash grazing of crops for a spring crops in WA, using a large number of cutting height  time
short period of a few days to a week is unlikely to allow significant experiments throughout the state. We found that crash grazing to
biomass accumulation, especially when pasture growth rates are 5 cm will reduce the yield of spring canola cultivars, and cereals
low. Increases in animal bodyweight will also be small when at or past Z30; that treatments simulating clip grazing of the top
crash grazing is quick, unless part of an extended grazing rotation. 5–10 cm of crop will reduce yields less than crash grazing; and
Clip grazing or extended grazing at low stocking rates will assist that clip cutting will allow safe grazing without yield penalty past
with deferment of pastures, as the safe grazing window is longer. hollow stem (Z30) (end of July) in spring cereals, or past flower-
Although it may be useful to use grazing crops to defer pastures bud extension (mid-July) for spring canola. Verification of these
for an extended period, a poor pasture will remain so, and it may outcomes under a range of seasonal conditions and/or with
be better to use that pasture paddock as a fodder crop, using crop- grazing animals is warranted to provide further robust
grazing opportunities if required. management guidelines for mixed farming systems in WA.
Given the apparent advantages to both the stock and crop
enterprises of clip grazing, questions remain over the practicality Acknowledgements
of replicating our experimental cutting results with grazing This work was supported financially by the Department of Agriculture and
animals. In our experience, clipping can be achieved with Food Western Australia (DAFWA) and the Grains Research and
cattle by manipulation of stocking density and routinely Development Corporation (GRDC) of Australia. Pam Burgess, Paul
300 Crop & Pasture Science M. Seymour et al.

Matson and Rodger Bryant provided technical support and Dr John and grain yield be dissected? Crop & Pasture Science 62, 930–946.
Kirkegaard (CSIRO) provided professional and project support. Jaron doi:10.1071/CP11066
Leask (DAFWA) provided stock statistics. We thank all of the farmers Hills A (2011) Crop grazing shows promise as disease tool. GRDC media
whose paddocks were sampled and Martin Harries of DAFWA for release 1/8/11 from DAFWA GRDC project DAW00190.
supporting the use of ‘Focus Paddocks’ for some of the sites. GRDC. Available at: www.grdc.com.au/Media-Centre/Media-News/
West/2011/08/Crop-grazing-shows-promise-as-disease-tool
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