Desmanthus virgatus is a legume plant introduced from northern Argentina at around 1980. It was widely trialled before being recommended by Departmental pasture scientists for commercial use as a beneficial pasture plant species. It has proven to be heat tolerant and very persistent in low rainfall environments and is tolerant of heavy grazing. It gives heavy seed production even under grazing and can thicken through seedling recruitment. It is well suited to clay based soils and loams found in brigalow, box and downs country and heavier alluvial soils.
Steer liveweight gains of 160 to 240 kg/head/year have been measured on grass-desmanthus pasture. Increased wool production has been recorded when fed as a supplement to sheep grazing Mitchell grass pastures.
(Source: Pastures Australia fact sheet)
Further Information found on Department of Agriculture and Fisheries QLD website.
The selection of Cowpower® desmanthus is based on its capacity to be spread by cattle ingestion through heavy grass stands, on the remarkable improvement in soil fertility it provided, and the known high protein of desmanthus and its ability to provide weight gain in cattle.
Back in 1985 QDPI established a trial on the Douglas family property Wyoming, south-west of Roma Qld, of 3 desmanthus varieties. One variety emerged through years of drought, frost and rains and this was regularly grazed and the seed spread by cattle only through the adjoining 140 hectares of dense bambatsi grass pasture.
The benefit of desmanthus as a high protein plant for improved cattle and sheep production was known. What was not known was how much the desmanthus as a legume was contributing to soil fertility. A soil test was devised to properly determine what difference in available soil nitrogen could be attributed to the presence of desmanthus in the total pasture stand. Remarkably the soil tests showed that there was 46 kilograms of available nitrogen in pasture with desmanthus compared with 10 kilograms of soil nitrogen in a comparable pasture stand without desmanthus. It was then decided to commercialise this selection of desmanthus as Cowpower.
In November 2014 desmanthus plants that had emerged from cowpats were potted and the seed collected from these plants. These were multiplied up at the Walkamin Research Station on the Atherton Tableland and that seed planted and grown for seed production by a contracted Atherton Tableland seed grower. All Cowpower seed production is derived from the initial cowpat plants. This is Cowpower desmanthus which is now commercially available.
We've tested Bambatsi grass alone and Bambatsi grass with CowPower. The results show a dramatic increase in nitrogen.