DairyNZ has launched two new levy-funded online resources: the Pasture and Crop Eaten Calculator and the Pasture Potential Tool (dairynz.co.nz/pasture-gap).
These resources will help you calculate pasture and crop eaten and assess how you compare to neighbouring farmers in terms of growing and utilising homegrown feed (pasture and crop). Determining your performance gap is a starting point for assessing whether you can make more money from pasture.
Do you know your pasture eaten figure?
Pasture eaten is a key performance indicator for successful dairy farm businesses. It’s a measure of how much pasture and crop grown on the milking platform is being eaten by cows. This is measured in tonnes of dry matter per hectare (t DM/ha).
The Pasture and Crop Eaten Calculator calculates your pasture eaten figure based on the energy it takes to drive your farm (e.g. cow maintenance and milk production) and deducts any feed brought onto the milking platform or any feed consumed by cows grazed off. The remaining feed is the quantity of pasture and crop eaten.
Knowing your current pasture eaten figure allows you to assess your current farm performance against its potential.
What is your pasture potential?
The online Pasture Potential Tool allows you to create a regionally relevant ‘benchmark’ for your farm and compare your own pasture eaten with other similar farms (e.g. soil type, elevation, nitrogen use) in your area.
The tool provides a graph of the distribution of pasture and crop eaten within a 20 kilometre (km), 40km and 60km radius from the chosen location, using DairyBase data. It defines your pasture potential as the level that only one out of ten farmers beat. The ‘gap’ is the difference between your current figure and the top-performing result.
What is it worth?
Pasture eaten can help you generate additional profit with very little extra effort. DairyBase data suggests increasing the amount of pasture and crop eaten on-farm can equate to around $300 of extra operating profit per hectare of DM eaten. Here’s an example :
How will you achieve your pasture potential?
There are two areas of opportunity: growing more and utilising more of what you’re growing.
Grazing management and stocking rate are key here. The critical factors to focus on at every grazing are:
- grazing at the correct time and pre-grazing yield
- grazing to the correct residual (adequate pasture allocation).
To find out more about how you can grow and utilise more pasture, visit dairynz.co.nz/pasture-management
Check out the Pasture Potential Tool, Pasture and Crop Eaten Calculator and other resources at dairynz.co.nz/pasture-gap
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy February 2019