The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is one of the world’s leading grains research organisations responsible for planning, investing in and overseeing RD&E to deliver improvements in production, sustainability and profitability across the Australian grains industry.
Nuffield Australia 2018 Scholar
Stuart McDonald from Canowindra, NSW receives a Nuffield Scholarship supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
Stuart will research how continuous grain cropping with the aid of livestock can be sustained in a high rainfall environment and chose this topic as there has been little research done on continuous cropping in his local area. He believes utilising winter grazing crops for livestock feed can enhance soil mineral and nitrogen uptake in subsequent crops.
Stuart operates a 1363 hectare sheep, cattle and cropping enterprise, north of Canowindra, NSW. The property comprises 1050 hectares of cropping made up of mainly wheat and canola as well as lupins, chickpeas and oats. He also runs a self-replacing flock of 1400 merino ewes and 50 stud Illawarra dairy cows.
In his own enterprise for the past five years, Stuart’s benchmarking data has identified the negative impact of changing between cropping and pasture on paddock gross margin.
As a result, Stuart believes continuous cropping combined with livestock production could have potential to extend pasture productivity, reduce overgrazing, decrease financial risk, and enhance whole farm profitability.
“Continuous cropping is not commonly practiced in our mixed farming environment where high rainfall and good soils equally lend themselves to producing crops or high quality pastures,” Stuart said.
“We have to balance business and financial risk whilst managing differing land classes on the same farm.
“The Nuffield Scholarship is an opportunity to address the current knowledge gaps around continuous cropping in high rainfall areas with the aid of livestock, and to apply these learnings on-farm, so as to grow a more profitable and sustainable business.
Stuart plans on visiting China, New Zealand, North and South America, and Canada on his study tour.