Ecotain plantain found to reduce nitrogen leaching
Not all plantains are created equal when it comes to managing nitrogen leaching – that’s the word from Dr Glenn Judson of Agricom which has announced research that could reduce nitrogen leaching from dairy farms.
Agricom has bred a specific plantain that works as a forage plant for livestock. Plantain began life as a common flat weed, and subsequent plant breeding developed Ecotain, as it has been named, which can act to reduce nitrogen leaching.
Dr Judson, Agricom’s science lead, said it has unique properties that set it apart from other plantains.
‘‘It’s a broad leaf crop and highly recognisable in pasture. It has large leaves, grows upright and has good growth in the winter months. While it is an excellent forage plant and has been used by farmers for many years, we now know that it can function environmentally to significantly reduce nitrate losses on farm from the urine patch.’’
In 2015 with Callaghan Innovation funding, Agricom developed the Greener Pastures Project, which combines research and expertise from Massey and Lincoln universities and Plant & Food Research. With the DairyNZ-led Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching programme, the Greener Pastures Project has a series of peerreviewed scientific papers that support the use of Ecotain within its nitrogen management system, NSentinel 4. Dr Judson said Ecotain reduces nitrate losses from the urine patch, the greatest source of leached nitrogen on farms with grazing livestock.