Nutritional ecology of pasture systems under climate extremes
Under a future that is both warmer and drier there is continued concern for the sustainability of livestock and dairy production around the globe. Current predictions suggest reductions in both the quantity and nutritional quality of the pasture feedbase that supports the diets of domestic livestock (e.g. cattle and sheep). Importantly, should the nutritional quality of natural pasture forage decline, farmers are forced to augment livestock diet using the supplemental feed, a factor that increases input costs in the livestock production systems under climate change scenarios. Despite the intensive study of pasture management systems over many years, there remain significant gaps in understanding of how climatic change, particularly climate extremes, drive the productivity and nutritional quality of pastures in an Australian context. In my PhD research I will investigate the nutritional responses of several pasture systems comprising different plant species, including combinations of C3 and C4 grasses and legumes under different climate extremes scenarios (drought and warming). This study will impose a unique manipulation of environmental and weather conditions in a series of experiments conducted in the Pastures and Climate Extremes - PACE - facilities (field and glasshouse). This research will provide valuable information for grazing and meat/dairy industries in Australia and abroad about new ways to proactively manage the impacts of climate change and extreme events on the feed base that underpins their success.
Dr Ben Moore, Professor Sally Power, Dr Amy Churchill