Understanding anti-nutritional compounds in forage brassicas to improve livestock production

Dr Rebecca Stutz1, Dr Lucy Watt2, Mr Tony Swan1, Dr Lindsay Bell2 

1CSIRO, Agriculture & Food, Canberra, Australia,
2CSIRO, Agriculture & Food, Toowoomba, Australia

Forage brassicas are a high value feed for livestock with a high nutritive value compared to grass and cereal forages at the same growth stage. However, forage brassicas contain antinutritional compounds that can negatively impact livestock health and production. In intensive grazing systems, grazing of forage brassicas is tightly managed to mitigate risks but this is not practical in less intensively managed systems that are typical of Australia’s mixed farming zone. Better grazing management guidelines require a greater understanding of the drivers of grazing behaviour and animal performance, and options to mitigate health risks. In particular, greater understanding of environmental, management and genotype influences on the expression of antinutritional compounds such a nitrates and glucosinolates. We analysed samples collected from a range of forage brassica genotypes grown in diverse production environments and found nearly two-thirds had nitrate concentrations > 9000 ppm, which is considered ‘risky’ or ‘deadly’ to livestock. Farmers in southern NSW have also reported photosensitisation in livestock, and samples collected from these farms revealed high glucosinolate concentrations. We have found that N-fertiliser management is a critical driver of nitrate concentrations irrespective of genotype, and N-fertiliser and crop S supply have an interactive effect on glucosinolate concentrations. Our research has improved our understanding of factors driving the expression of these compounds that will help to develop better management guidelines, and identify potential varietal improvements which together may help farmers manage the risks of grazing forage brassicas and remove barriers to their adoption in the mixed farming zone.


To come



Forage brassicas have a role in filling feed gaps in mixed farming systems

Dr Lucy Watt1, Dr Lindsay Bell1 

1CSIRO, Agriculture and Food, Toowoomba, Australia

Forage brassicas are widely used higher rainfall livestock systems, but a recent multi-environment study has identified several forage brassica genotypes with high potential for use in Australia’s mixed farming zone. Forage rapes and raphanobrassica (kale x radish) cv. Pallaton were identified as high performing genotypes in low production environments capable of producing higher yields of metabolisable energy and crude protein compared to forage cereals, particularly late in the growing season. Despite this production potential, further work is needed to demonstrate the system fit and agronomic management required for forage brassicas to be used reliably in drier environment livestock systems. Winter grown forage cereals and dual-purpose crops offer relatively short grazing windows in late autumn and early winter, while forage brassicas have an extended vegetative phase with fast grazing recovery; hence extending grazing windows and reducing gaps in seasonal feed supply. Feedback from participatory farmers in on-farm demonstrations has identified several niches where forage brassicas could provide benefits including as an autumn-sown option to fill feed gaps from winter to early summer, or as a spring-sown option to provide higher quality summer and early autumn feed. Our data has mainly focussed on the autumn-sown option where farmers have achieved 12-14 months of grazing on raphanobrassica crops with fat lambs which has produced returns of up to $2670/ha gross profit. Although promising, we are further exploring the value of forage brassicas on a whole-farm feedbase level across a broader range of environments, livestock systems and sowing times to target other grazing windows.


Lucy is a mixed crop-livestock systems scientist based at CSIRO in Toowoomba Qld. She commenced with CSIRO as a Postdoctoral fellow in 2018 working in forage brassica and dual-purpose crop research. She enjoys engaging and collaborating with industry to enhance her research impact.



Performance and Feasibility of Carinata in Australia

Dr Anthony Van Herwaarden1, Dr Rick Bennett2, Mr Trent Potter3, Dr Christopher Lambrides1, Dr Nelson Gororo3, Mr Hank Krakowski5, Dr Vivi Arief1, Mr Winslow Leveque6, Dr Phillip Salisbury7 

1The University Of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia,
2Nuseed Pty Ltd, Saskatoon, Canada,
3Nuseed Pty Ltd, Horsham, Australia,
4Yeruga Crop Research, Naracoorte, Australia,
5Conure Aviation Group, Chicago, United States of Ameriaca,
6Queensland Treasury, Brisbane, Australia,
7The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia

Renewable diesel and biojet fuels made from fats and oils are the most rapidly growing sector in the biofuels industry around the world.  The High-erucic acid content of carinata (Brassica carinata) oil makes it a sought-after feedstock for Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF). With growing worldwide demand for plant-based sources of protein for animal rations and human consumption, the high-protein seed meal is a co-product with value that rivals that of the oil. In the 2018 winter growing season, twenty field trials were sown across Australia to test the performance of 48 carinata genotypes against 8 commercial canolas.  Site mean yield ranged from 0.11 t/ha up to 2.84 t/ha. Across all sites, carinata genotypes produced grain yields similar to Australian canola varieties. All seven of the hybrid carinatas and one hybrid canola line were in the top 10 highest yielding genotypes.  Not surprisingly triazine tolerant (TT) canola lines were among the lowest yielding breeding lines. Performance of these carinata genotypes selected on height, maturity and oil alone indicates that further improvements in yield and quality should be possible with future breeding efforts. Implementation of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) will introduce a global carbon pricing scheme for the aviation industry. This should kick-start the development of a carinata industry and supply chain in Australia which would provide new employment opportunities associated with this food and biofuel crop, stimulate economic growth and thus provide one avenue to support Australia’s transition to a low-carbon future.


Pre and post PhD Anthony worked with CSIRO Plant Industry in Canberra over 15 years to investigate issues which face productive and sustainable farming communities in Australia. He developed expertise on the nitrogen and carbon dynamics of cereal crops.  Most of his work focussed on management and breeding approaches to drought tolerance in wheat working on haying-off, soluble carbohydrates and reduced tillering but it extended to nitrogen uptake dynamics and the canopy architecture of high yielding crops.  This work has involved initiating and facilitating collaboration between researchers, consultants and growers to capitalise on synergies between groups. He then moved to Brisbane and worked in business development and commercialisation across the whole of CSIRO.  As CSIRO’s QLD State Manager he was integral to the formation of several alliances in health, energy, food and marine research and consolidated research infrastructure to co-locate with research partners.  During that time he maintained connections to his science and in 2016 moved back into agricultural science roles at the University of Queensland doing what he loves best, solving industry problems with science.



Phi thickenings in Brassica oleracea roots are induced by osmotic stress and mechanical effects, both involving jasmonic acid

Mrs Maketalena Aleamotu’a1, Associate Professor David W McCurdy1, Associate Professor David A Collings1 

1School of Environmental and Life Science, The University Of Newcastle, Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia

Phi thickenings are peculiar secondary cell wall thickenings found in radial walls of cortical cells in plant roots, where only thin, primary walls normally occur. Although first described in the 19th century, research into phi thickening development has been lacking, and their roles within roots remain unknown. While we speculate that thickenings strengthen the root tip, possibly helping the root penetrate through soil, the lack of appropriate induction systems precludes characterisation of their roles.

We developed a simple system for rapid phi thickening induction in primary roots of Brassica in which four-day old seedlings are transferred from control agar plates to new plates containing osmotica such as salt. Phi thickenings develop within a narrow region of the differentiation zone in levels proportional to osmotic stress, with cellulose deposition and lignification starting after twelve and fifteen hours respectively. Osmoprotectants such as glycine-betaine, however, inhibited induction when tested in combination with thickening-inducing osmotica. An independent biomechanical pathway regulating phi thickening induction is also present within Brassica roots, with root elongation rates and substrate texture important for thickening induction. Phi thickening development is also controlled by stress-related plant hormones, most notably jasmonic acid (JA). As ibuprofen, a JA biosynthesis inhibitor, blocks phi thickening induction by both osmotic and mechanical effects, we suggest that JA plays a critical role in controlling phi thickening induction. Our research not only provides the first understanding of the developmental pathways controlling phi thickening induction, but provides tools with which the functions of these enigmatic structures might be clarified.


Maketalena Aleamotu’a is a finishing PhD student at the University of Newcastle working on phi thickening, a secondary cell wall structure in Brassica root. She’s an aspiring student determining to uncover the genes involve in phi thickening formation with the ambition that the outcome will be directly applicable to crop breeding strategies in Brassica.

Breeding improvements in forage brassica that maximise utilisation and animal production

Mr Hamish Best1 

1Auswest & Stephen Pasture Seeds, Truginina, Australia

Spring sown forage brassica is a common feed source for finishing lambs and supplementing cattle over summer when the quality of grasses decline. Autumn sown forage brassica is also an important tool for mixed cropping farmers across Australia to provide high quality winter feed once grazing Canola crops are locked up. Animal production systems rely on grazeable yield, making utilised dry matter yield a more important factor than total yield. Recent plant breeding has developed Mainstar forage brassica, a new cultivar that maximises animal production in comparison to older brassica genetics.

This paper will demonstrate how farmers can increase lamb production by explaining multi-site, multi-year replicated grazing trials across Ballarat, Hawkes Bay (NZ), Wairarapa (NZ) and Lincoln (NZ). It will show significant increases in dry matter yield and edible yield per hectare. The main mechanism causing the production gain is a very high leaf to stem ratio meaning higher quality feed on offer. When lambs are stocked based on total feed on offer, per hectare production will be the highest when the edible yield is higher in quality. Mainstar has also shown significantly higher tolerance to the grey cabbage aphid and green peach aphid. There are also very visible differences in grazing preference with this recently released forage brassica


Hamish has10 years experience the pasture seed industry both in Australia and New Zealand, focussing on farm systems and pastures



About conferences.com.au

conferences.com.au provides delegate registration, website and app solutions, and financial management for conferences, conventions and scientific meetings.

Terms & Conditions

All registrations and bookings are subject to our standard term and conditions.

Contact Us

Please contact the team at conferences.com.au with any questions regarding the conference.
© 2017 - 2020 Conference Design Pty Ltd. conferences.com.au is a division of Conference Design Pty Ltd.