What's my potential profit?
Increasing the amount of pasture and crop eaten on-farm could equate to around $300 of extra operating profit per hectare of dry matter eaten. Use the Pasture potential and Pasture and crop eaten tools below to calculate your own figure from the following formula:
|Pasture potential||-||Pasture and crop eaten||=||gap||x||$300||=||Potential profit|
|e.g. 15.5 tonnes||-||13.5 tonnes||=||2 tonnes||x||$300||=||$600/ha|
Pasture and Crop Eaten Assessment
Use this 5-step assessment to calculate a pasture and crop eaten figure and find out if you're getting the most out of your homegrown feed.
Pasture Potential Tool
Use this tool to assess how your pasture potential figure stacks up with other farms of a similar N use and soil type in your local area.
What is pasture eaten?
Pasture eaten is a measure of how much pasture grown on the milking platform is being eaten by cows to produce milk, and is measured in kilograms of dry matter per hectare (kg DM/ha) or tonnes per hectare (tonnes/ha).
The pasture and crop eaten calculator assess how much energy it takes to drive your farm (cow numbers, type and milk production) and deducts any feed bought onto the milking platform or any feed consumed by cows grazed off. The remainder is the quantity of pasture and crop eaten.
What is potential pasture eaten?
Potential pasture eaten tool allows you to create regionally relevant ‘benchmark’ for your farm by looking at other farms in your locality. The tool defines pasture potential as the ‘90th percentile of pasture and crop eaten on nearby farm’ (i.e. the level that only one out of ten farmers beat).
The tool provides a chart with the distribution of DairyBase pasture and crop eaten within a 20km, 40km and 60km distance from the chosen location.
The potential achievable (the 90th percentile) is shown as a dark blue line with a numerical value. The uncertainty band of this estimate is shown as a shaded area around this level.
Achieving pasture potential
There are two broad areas of opportunity – growing more pasture (or crop) and utilising more of what you are growing. Grazing management, which costs nothing is the easiest solution to optimising both areas.
Management area How to identify the issue Actions Nitrogen use Obvious (green) urine patches demonstrate N deficit, feed wedge indicates feed deficit ahead
• Within any environmental limits, use nitrogen to fill deficits in early spring and encourage tillering prior to summer
• Set N polices for the season, minimise losses
• Amount of N required to achieve an extra tonne DM/ha. E.g. 100kg N /ha = 1T DM
• Maximise responses, use in high periods of growth, (N is a growth accelerator)
Optimal soil fertility Low clover content, weeds, urine patches obvious
• Check that the recent soil and plant test is in optimum range
• Apply leachable nutrients at lower application rates
Drainage Water-logged areas with poor species, compaction, mottled soil layers
• Cost benefit approach to drainage
• Minimise pugging, on -off grazing, back fencing, drop fences instead of using normal gate way, graze from back of paddock etc
Pasture species Gaps and/or weed species present
• Are pastures less than 10 years old? If not, how do the cultivars used rate against new genetics (use FVI)
• Use paddock grazing records, pasture growth records, or pasture condition score tool to help identify poorer performing paddocks
• Value of pasture renewal calculator
• Improve clover content, (N, K and graze to avoid shading)
Manage water deficits Dead tillers, open pastures, lack of green material
• Use of deeper rooting species
• Check irrigation efficiency, water used per kg DM grown
• Effluent used to best advantage (applied when water needed)
• Crops and supplements, on-off grazing
Crops Feed budget shows feed deficit
• Growing high yielding crops to provide feed during pasture deficit periods- will also help avoid overgrazing of pastures
• Using crop cycles to improve pasture, e.g. remove /reduce pests, weeds cultivation, drainage
• Net gain in yield approach shows crop less pasture grown is positive.
The three key factors to focus on at every grazing are:
- grazing at the correct time
- grazing to the correct residual
- having the correct stocking rate
To achieve this requires regular assessment of pasture. See Leaf stage for more information.
The opportunity to grow and harvest more pasture is present on every farm. The performance of paddocks can vary widely – often the top paddock can grow double that of the lowest paddock on the farm. Key aspects to focus on are:
Find out about the 8 habits of a great pasture manager here.