As a result of being involved in Tiller Talk, Kathy and Logan have changed a number of their pasture related practices, including:
- Pasture Renewal: Kathy and Logan now have a better understanding and awareness of their underperforming paddocks, and they are doing something about it (2019). There is a range of DM yield between paddocks across the farm, and they use their visual assessments along with growth rate data on MINDA Land & Feed to identify them.
“Visual assessments and the weekly pasture walks have enabled us to select lower performing paddocks for renewal – and fix underlying issues (pest control, fertility, drainage) over time.”
- Growth rate information has helped them be proactive with their decisions, for example identifying a surplus or deficit early, and giving them the ability to be more aggressive in these decisions.
- Soil fertility: Kathy and Logan have a demonstration soil fertility site on their farm, and this has led to some new learnings and exposure to experts that can advise them.
This season (2018/19) they peak milked 228 cows on 88ha. Kathy runs the farm full time with Logan working off farm for DairyNZ, helping out after hours and on weekends. Temporary seasonal staff assist with calf rearing and relief milking.
The pair fed 736 kg DM/cow imported supplement. Some supplement is fed in spring, but only if there is a genuine pasture deficit. Typically they use supplement to extend lactation in autumn and to winter cows. This season no supplement was fed in spring but the summer and autumn was difficult with the majority of the supplement fed during this time. All cows are wintered on; young stock are grazed off.
The farm’s biggest challenge is the heavy Marton clay soils, which are normally wet in winter and dry in summer. Major investment has been made in upgrading the effluent system and there is also a covered wintering shed and a feed pad. Much of the farm (72.5ha-82%) has been renewed into either Italian, hybrid or perennial ryegrass pastures since Kathy and Logan took the farm over.
“Our goal is to grow and feed as much pasture as we can, and import as little supplement as we can. We want to be low cost and to utilise pasture first, and brought in feed only to fill gaps if profitable. As well as being more cost effective, it’s easier for us with me running the farm during the week,” Kathy explains. “If I’m having to feed supplement flat out, it’s actually quite time-consuming.”
The farm is walked regularly (ideally every week) to measure pasture covers and over the last year this has been done by a contractor.
Kathy and Logan have enjoyed being involved with Tiller Talk. “It’s really good to network with like-minded people who are enthusiastic about pasture. We want to keep learning; we want to be able to keep asking questions and gaining extra insights into grass.”
The 2019/20 season will see some changes on the farm. Logan is working on farm more and cow numbers are going up by 25 cows in an attempt to utilise more pasture.