Eco­tain plan­tain found to re­duce ni­tro­gen leach­ing

Matamata Chronicle - - Out & About - RU­RAL DE­LIV­ERY

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.

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