Over the past two years being involved in Tiller Talk, Paul has moved farm properties as is typical in sharemilking arrangements. Paul shares how his learnings from Tiller Talk helped him to get the best he could from a new farm in his first season:
- Use of the Spring Rotation Planner tool was integral to ensure that he set himself up well in spring.
“Learnings around the leaf stage and the growth cycle of ryegrass has helped make sure that we are grazing the pasture at the right time.”
- Discussions with the group and the agronomist have helped with choosing the right variety/pasture species mix for farm, and not necessarily just using what they have in the past.
- Paul identified that there was not a lot of clover in the pastures on the new farm, so ha stitched in clover and plantain to a large proportion of the farm to help boost pasture grown.
- Paul found that a key focus on post-grazing residuals was very important to maximise pasture utilisation and quality, and reduce supplement use.
Paul and Doris joined Agriseeds Grass into Gold Programme, a predecessor to DairyNZ's Tiller Talk, in June 2014. The Awaikera’s joined the programme because they believed farming should be grass-based.
“I have always been a grass person. I would like to feed as little concentrates as possible,” says Paul. “We joined Grass into Gold because we wanted to increase our farm management skills.”
On the West Coast they faced challenging, wet conditions; managing pugging in winter was difficult – despite this they managed to lift production.
Paul and Doris, who employ a full time staff member, want to continue to build on the gains made on the West Coast.
Paul puts real emphasis on pasture management during spring. He uses the DairyNZ spring rotation planner religiously, and he makes good use of the 2.5 – 3 leaf theory when it comes to grazing.
To Paul, the biggest opportunities on this farm are maintaining pasture quality year-round and being on top of pasture renewal programme.
Due to the recent move onto the new property, historic grass growth data is lacking. This has made feed budgeting difficult for this season. Paul has been monitoring pasture growth, walking the paddocks of the farm every Friday. This has enabled Paul to plot dry matter production per paddock throughout the season and make a pasture renewal plan.
“It’s all about adjusting cow number to match feed supply and demand,” says Paul.
In his opinion, the farm is slightly over stocked. He is looking forward to talking to other farmers through Tiller Talk and discussing options around feed demand and supply on the Ashburton property – Paul will have more to share after one full season on the farm.
“Successful pasture management for me means you are achieving your goals, making money moving forward through high pasture utilisation, as opposed to chasing per cow production.”