Best Waikato/Bay of Plenty first year pasture (sown autumn this year)
Stu McHardy, Edgecumbe, Bay of Plenty
Best Waikato/BOP pasture sown more than three years ago (prior to May 2013)
Shaun Brighouse, Cambridge, Waikato
Stu McHardy won the 2016/17 Best First Year Pasture Competition with a tetraploid - diploid ryegrass mix grown on the family farm in Edgecumbe, Bay of Plenty.
The pasture was sown in March 2016 with a roller drill in two passes ¾ then ¼ for better consolidation to minimise the risk of any gaps. The result, when the pasture was judged in November 2016, was a dense sward with high clover content and low bare ground. Stu McHardy explained at the winner’s field day in February 2017 that there is ‘no silver bullet for good pasture establishment’ – a good reminder not to cut any corners and do the whole job right.
Stu McHardy used top ranking Forage Value Index (FVI) ryegrass cultivars, four kilograms per hectare of plantain was also added to the mix. Palatability, growth rate, and endophyte choice were all factors in Stu’s decision-making. Plantain was chosen over chicory for its better persistence, remaining productive in the pasture sward for a number of years.
Contract milker, Shaun Brighouse regrassed with Bealey in March 2011. Perennial ryegrass is sown after a cropping rotation which currently includes chicory, fodder beet and maize. Shaun and cropping manager Richard Beaver explained at the field day they hosted in February that through cropping they can reduce pest and weed burdens improving pasture persistence, and providing alternatives at key times of the year to reduce grazing pressure.
The judging panel say ‘the farm had good policies to reducing the pressure on pasture, avoiding winter damage and summer overgrazing, the pasture was well managed for residual and had a high proportion of the sown species.’
Stu and Shaun both won $1500 worth of ryegrass seed thanks to Agricom and Agriseeds.