Atlas PG (Phalaris aquatica) is a semi-erect to erect, winter active variety, suited to dry marginal rainfall regions, which forms thick dense tufts of wide blue-green leaves that are very palatable to sheep and cattle. Atlas PG requires a growing season of 8–9 months and is the first winter active phalaris developed with summer dormancy. This will lead to better long term persistence of Atlas PG in districts prone to false breaks. However, given significant summer rainfall, Atlas PG will still respond but herbage production will be reduced compared to other more summer active types such as Holdfast or Landmaster. Atlas PG has excellent seedling vigour which will assist in successful establishment along with strong persistence. Once established, Atlas PG will be able to handle periods of waterlogging and inundation. Atlas PG’s ability to grow in dry, temperate environments extends the range of pasture species available to combat soil degradation. Establishing a perennial pasture based on Phalaris will improve farm productivity compared to systems relying on annual grasses. Nitrogen produced by pasture legumes, usually grown with annual grasses, leaches down though the soil profile, taking nutrients with it, and leaving acidic elements behind. The deep-rooted nature of Atlas PG Phalaris draws these nutrients back up to help prevent or slow down the onset of acidification. Another major benefit of the deep-root system of phalaris is it improves persistence and productivity under drought conditions.
Phalaris pastures can be seriously damaged by Blue Oat Mite (Penthaleus major), Red Legged Earth Mite (Halotydeus destructor), Field Crickets (Teleogryllus commodus), Pasture Scarabs (Seriecsthis spp.), Slugs and Snails. Appropriate management of these insects is vital for successful stands, particularly during the establishment period.
Atlas PG has been granted protection under PBR. Unauthorised commercial propagation or any sale, conditioning, export, import or stocking of propagating material of this variety is an infringement under the Plant Breeder’s Rights Act 1994. Seedmark (Seed Technology and Marketing) has an exclusive licence for the production and marketing of Atlas PG.
- Atlas PG requires a growing season of 8-9 months and is the first seed retaining Phalaris developed that provides summer dormancy
- This will lead to better long term persistence of Atlas PG in lower rainfall districts prone to false breaks
- It has excellent seedling vigour which will assist in successful establishment along with strong persistence.
Atlas PG has an early to mid season maturity and is 7 days later maturing than Santiago. An adaptable variety which grows on a wide range of soils it has a high percentage of soft seed (24%) –Santiago (8.5%). With an erect growth habit with high herbage and seed production, it is an excellent ley farming option with dense regeneration. Atlas PG demonstrates excellent salt tolerance during key growing period compared to other species.
Disease issues are very rare amongst established stands of Phalaris.
Grazing of newly sown pasture should be avoided until plants have established themselves. Grazing plants too soon can cause plants to be pulled out, reducing the plant population and pasture performance. Many older Phalaris varieties have high levels of Alkaloids which can cause Phalaris Toxicity (Phalaris staggers). New varieties such as Atlas PG contain lower alkaloid levels in the leaves and therefore provide a safer grazing alternative. However, in areas prone to Phalaris Toxicity plants should be grazed cautiously in the autumn and early winter. Atlas PG can be grown with other legume or grass species to help reduce the risk of illness in livestock.
Phalaris Toxicity can affect sheep that are grazing on fresh growth of Phalaris at the break. Stock are at the greatest risk when grazing short, frosted plants, which mainly occurs during the autumn or early winter period. To counter the potential problem, Cobalt bullets can be orally administered or by ensuring stock are not hungry when introduced to lush, green feed. The greatest risk to animals is when they are able to ingest a high level of herbage in a short period of time.
Once stands are established it is recommended that you follow the points below to maximise the benefits and persistence from your phalaris stands:
- Lime acid surface soils if CaCl2 extractable Al is 8+ppm
- Sow Atlas PG rather than any other cultivar if in low summer rainfall areas
- Apply superphosphate if Olsen P is 8ppm or less
- Graze winter active cultivars rotationally with 4–6 week spells in autumn–winter
- Set stock in spring
- Do not heavily graze new stems from summer regrowth
- Clean up stem residues in summer to increase clover germination and growth
- Do not graze too hard or too often after stem growth starts in spring, especially in a dry year.