The group was originally formed to help tackle issues affecting pasture persistence and performance head-on by ensuring farmers receive consistent, timely messages. To highlight a broadening of scope, the group name has recently been updated as it aims to tackle a wider range of pasture persistence issues.
There are a number of research projects and initiatives underway across different industry organisations and the PILG is a communication channel for all these pieces of work. Articles are regularly published in editions of Inside Dairy and can be found on the Grass Roots page.
25 September 2015
With the present low milk price dairy farmers are sensibly questioning where they can save money.
DairyNZ’s Pasture Improvement Leadership Group is offering some information to farmers looking at the options.
DairyNZ productivity team leader, Rob Brazendale says it is false economics leaving paddocks of annual ryegrass in through summer, and not putting in a summer crop.
Agriseeds pasture systems manager, Graham Kerr says “these need to be resown, or you are going to end up with a paddock of weeds”.
This is illustrated by the picture of a plot trial at Massey University No 4 dairy farm where an annual ryegrass plot (outlined in white) was sown among other ryegrass species.
“Annual ryegrass goes to seed in November and then pretty much stops tillering and dies,” he says.
“People need to be aware that the ‘do nothing’ strategy will result in getting a paddock full of weeds and summer grasses, that won’t feed much at all, and will need extra work to be resown.”
There are a number of options for spring crops to consider, depending on the needs of the farm system. Maize has always been a popular high yielding crop. Chicory and summer turnips are the most popular forage options, with chicory suiting sites with more pest pressure, as a multi-graze option. Turnips suit some areas where insect pressures are less.
Other options this year may be to spray-drill mixes (i.e. spraying paddocks out with glyphosate and then direct-drilling) that include some or all of the species: chicory, plantain, red clover and white clover.
Agricom Australasian brand manager, Mark Brown says it can be tempting to look to save money by simply oversowing seed of these, for example with fertiliser through a spreader. “But results are variable and we would strongly recommend using spray-drilling,” he says.
In trials run on summer crops of chicory and plantain at DairyNZ’s Scott Farm in the Waikato, spray-drilling seed grew 2.1 to 2.3 tonnes of dry matter per hectare more than oversowing it, making spray-drilling cost-effective.
“There are options for growing more high metabolisable energy summer feed if you need it. Our advice is don’t cut corners, do the job right, and you will get better returns with less risk of failure,” he says.
Pasture Improvement Leadership Group:
|Rob Brazendale||DairyNZ/ project lead|
|Martin Johnson||John Austin Contractors|