Michael & Elaine Tugwell


Both my wife & I come from Farming backgrounds in the Albany WA area, mine at Napier on a small sheep farm. Leaving school at 15 I worked on the family farm & with my father’s small shearing team until I joined the Regular Army at the age of 18. We returned to Napier 33 years later purchasing our own farm & commencing life again in the sheep farming business.

At this stage I realised that farming had changed so much in the 3+ decades I was absent that it was difficult to find a start point. Sheep breeds, grasses & cattle had advanced incredibly. One of the first requirements was to ensure we had the best pastures for our new sheep. It turned out that Kikuyu was now regarded as an excellent choice when mixed with clovers. Initial research showed that establishing this or any other pasture was an expensive & time consuming exercise, with may failures occurring if not done correctly. As such I realised I lacked the experience required.

My 30+ years as a soldier taught that there is no substitute for experience. We gain experience through lessons learnt from positive & negative results/outcomes in life, in many ways learning more from the negative occasions. Realising I was already over 50 years old, had a limited budget, no experience & a lack of time I needed someone who had the experience & had learnt the lessons the hard way, to guide me.

This led me to Morgan & Debbie Sounness of Gnowellen in Southern WA. Morgan is one of only two certified Kikuyu seed producers in Australia & has 35 years of practical experience in all aspects of Kikuyu production, seeding, grazing etc. As well as being seed producers Morgan & Debbie also run a large flock of Fine wool merinos on their Kike pastures. This very much validates his advice! Discussing the Kike issue with Morgan I realised that he had learnt a huge amount of experience from both positive & negative results. I had found my man!

Morgan has guided us through the maze of potential issues associated with establishing productive Kikuyu & Clover pastures over 10 years to the stage where half our farm is now covered. This includes a range of soil types from raw sand, to ironstone ridges, waterlogged swamps etc. We are now able to run increased stocking levels on these areas with little or no effects on the grass or soils. An example is running 160 X Bred lambing ewes on a 5-hectare paddock for over a month recently. One of the side benefits of the Kike, we are now seeing, is the reduction of weeds such as double gees in these kike paddocks.

There is no doubt that had we attempted this exercise by ourselves, with no experience, the results would not be the same!

The intent is to now clear & Kikuyu/Clover pasture a recently decommissioned 140-acre blue gum plantation. This of course is a very expensive project. However, Morgan has again provided solid advice & options for reducing costs to still establish an effective coverage on such a large area. Initial perimeter plantings of 20 acres again have validated his advice & guidance.

Eventually all of METCO Farm will be planted with Kikuyu & Clover to provide high value easy care pastures as I get older. Yes, you guessed it Morgan will be still providing the guidance & advice, so essential for success. Feel free to give me a call on 08 98 443 797 or by email Metco03@westnet.com.au if you have any queries.


Michael Tugwell


Fiona Wedenig – Gidgegannup WA



“After attending a couple of workshops on sustainable pasture management for horse properties by Chris Ferreira, my husband and I decided to follow his advice and seed our horse paddocks with Kikuyu. As Chris recommends the Kikuyu seeds from Tamgaree Pastoral, we were happy to meet Morgan and Deb Sounness from Tamgaree Pastoral at the Gidgegannup Small Farm Field Day in May 2014. We bought enough seed for half of our property as we wanted to develop the paddocks in stages. Morgan and Deb were very friendly and extremely helpful with finding suitable seeding contractors and gave plenty of good advice. Armed with instructions from both Chris Ferreira and Tamgaree Pastoral, we set out to clear the paddock in late August to prepare for seeding. The Kikuyu was seeded in the second week of September and we were lucky to have a good combination of rain and sunshine. Within weeks the Kikuyu started to sprout and by November it was ready to be fertilized. Whilst the top grass turned slightly brown during summer (the paddock is not irrigated) just as predicted, the ground runners and roots continued to get stronger and stronger. With the first rains, the Kikuyu, which was by then well established, turned green and lush so that nine months after seeding we were able to gradually introduce the horses to the paddock – and they love it! We are extremely pleased with how well the whole process worked – every step happened exactly as explained by Deb and Morgan. The Kikuyu is not only providing additional feed to our horses but also adding value to our property by improving the soil, reducing weed and by turning our home from a dust bowl into a green oasis! This year we bought some more seed and will be seeding the second half of our property!”   *********************************************************************************************************************************


By Ross Williams

who farms at Gairdner and Many Peaks

 The question every producer continually asks themselves is: “How can I increase production whilst still containing my costs?” After attending many field days and meetings, listening to the various speakers and trying to piece together what will work for me, I came to the conclusion that it had to be a perennial grass for the following reasons:

  • we have to use the rain where it falls right across the landscape
  • some of my property needed stabilising.

The next question was which perennial? The search started again, and my conclusion was kikuyu.  It is tough, and you can graze it and just keep feeding stock on it, and it will be there again next year. Kikuyu has done the following for me:

  • it has given me extended green feed over annual pasture
  • it has allowed me to increase my stocking rate – hence a higher profit margin
  • the deep rooted nature of kikuyu has now started recycling nutrients and improving the organic carbon level in the soil
  • I can over crop through the kikuyu – if I need more winter feed, sowing oats has given me the option of green feed and I also have the option of harvesting the oats so that I have supplementary grain to feed over autumn

The 2012 autumn proved to be quite a difficult period, but with just a few millimetres of rain, at the end of April and early May we had a green pick coming within days. On the first of June we had a thunderstorm with 33mm falling in an hour.  This caused some soil erosion in the annual pasture country, and whilst the kikuyu paddocks shed a lot of water, there was no erosion. For me farming in a 400mm average rainfall, kikuyu has been a saviour in more ways than one. ***************************************************************************************

Interview of client Tom Willson (Kangaroo Island South Australia) by Malcolm Sutton for the Stock Journal

5 CriticalFactors 1 Kikuyu can provide green cover over summer and autumn months 2 Draws up subsoil moisture effectively 3 Grows well in clay country with sandy surfaces 4 Provides a firebreak 5 Helps keep surface-soil in place


KIKUYU is continuing to make grazing inroads, with Kangaroo Island farmers finding success with the perennial grass. Tom Willson, owner of New Country KI – a pastoral farm on the island’s Dudley Peninsula – first seeded Kikuyu on 3 hectares four years ago after another farmer in the district had success. Impressed by the results, he increased the Kikuyu coverage by 25ha the following year, then another 40ha the next season. He is now looking to cover 30 per cent of his property, which includes 387ha of arable land for 4700 Merino ewes, weaners and wethers. “The kikuyu responds well to rainfall and you have a green pick virtually all-year-round,” Tom said. “It’s carrying a lot of stock, too. On 25ha it carried 980 weaners for six months with only hay for supplementary feed and no grain. “Normally 980 sheep on that sort of country for that period of time would decimate it, but this didn’t hurt it. “We got 10 bales of fleece from that line and it averaged $15.15 a kilogram greasy, with a low vegetable matter of 0.4 for March shearing and about 42/newtons a kilotex strength.” To prepare for seeding, Tom sprayed Roundup in the first week of August and then again about three weeks later plus Dicamba and insecticide. He seeded almost straight afterwards at 2kg/ha, using the variety Whittet, which he mixed with a 2kg/ha of Sona Masuri rice seed. Tom uses the rice, costing $1.60/kg, to bulk-out the Kikuyu seed so it runs though the seeder at the correct rate and does not separate.

“Kikuyu can be seeded any time from the first week of September through to mid-October,” Tom said. “And you get really good results in its first year because it uses subsoil moisture that is out of reach of annual pastures. “We had a slightly patchy result in some areas this year due to the late-season germination of annual pasture.” Tom feeds the Kikuyu with 200kg of NPK in mid-September and 120kg of a single superphosphate in late January. His land is mostly sandy loam over ironstone rubble with clay underneath. “You can give sandy paddocks a hard time without damaging them environmentally with this, and there is no drift,” he said. “A big rain does not wash off the surface soil, and the stock don’t seem to eat the clover seed. You can just hammer and hammer it and it grows quite well on clay country.” Tom has found that aggressive coverage of Kikuyu has all but done-away with capeweed, with “99.9 per cent” of the weed controlled. “In the wintertime, the Kikuyu goes dormant and the paddocks become clover-dominant,” he said. “In Springtime there are a few silvergrass and barleygrass plants, but the heavy stocking rates eliminate them before they become a problem. Tom says Kikuyu is gathering interest, with two of his neighbors working with it and others watching keenly. Trials are under way on the island to grow crops over the top of Kikuyu. Another benefit he gains from the grass is a reduced fire risk in summer. “If it’s still green in January and it’s eaten out, there’s nothing else for a fire to burn,” he said. “Once it is all established next year, there is a possibility I won’t insure my weaners on it during the summer months. “You could possibly save a few grand in insurance.”