Entries are now open for The Pasture Renewal Persistence Competition run by the DairyNZ-led Pasture Improvement Leadership Group.
Competition organiser and DairyNZ developer Sally Peel says pasture renewal is one of the first steps to achieving high-performing pastures.
“Improving poor yielding paddocks through good renewal practices can achieve a substantial increase in pasture tonnage and this competition highlights that,” says Sally.
The competition started six years ago, with past winners from both the Waikato and Bay of Plenty.
Last year’s winner of the ‘best first year pasture’ category, Aaron Price, says choosing to focus on achieving quality pastures is an easy decision.
“Pasture is our cheapest feed on the farm and it’s important to maximise what we get from it. And regrassing is a significant cost so we have to get the full benefit from it,” says Aaron, who milks 244 cows near Morrinsville.
Te Pahu dairy farmer Noldy Rust, who won the ‘2015 best pasture more than three-years-old category’ with an 11-year-old paddock, says the win was humbling.
“I know there are many farmers around with great paddocks. It’s just our good fortune we entered a good competition and won it,” says Noldy.
AgResearch senior scientist Dr David Hume, another competition judge, says Noldy’s win is a good example of how the competition is not just about producing a good pasture on the day.
“It’s about doing a whole combination of things to make a pasture last a number of years," says David.
“Noldy’s paddock scored particularly well on content of ryegrass and legume, and a good cultivar choice. It was well looked after in winter and summer, had good grazing residuals and good soil fertility. It ticked all the boxes.
“Further, Noldy was familiar with new cultivar choices and was using AR37 endophyte on parts of the farm, where historically black beetle had been a problem.”
The competition includes two categories. Waikato/Bay of Plenty first year pasture sown this year and Waikato/Bay of Plenty pasture sown more than three years ago (prior to May 2013).
Prizes include two $1500 pasture renewal packages, provided by Agriseeds and Agricom.
Judging will involve a short interview about the soil fertility and the paddock's history prior to and since re-sowing. Management practices such as grazing management, endophyte selection, weed control and nitrogen usage will be discussed.
Entries close on November 11, with judging held during late November. Winners’ field days will be held in February 2017.
The Pasture Renewal Persistence Competition is an initiative of the Pasture Improvement Leadership Group: a DairyNZ-led industry group including researchers, the seed industry, farmers and agricultural contractors, formed to develop better tools, resources and advice for farmers.
To enter visit www.dairynz.co.nz/pasture-comp
DairyNZ communications and marketing advisor
021 703 068