New tool ranks pasture condition
Farmers urged to plan ahead
A DairyNZ-led industry group is urging dairy farmers to assess their farms’ need for pasture renewal now.
‘‘Many Waikato and Bay of Plenty farmers are managing pastures that have less than desired density of ryegrass and clover as a result of insect and drought conditions incurred during the previous summer or treading damage this spring,’’ DairyNZ development team leader for productivity Rob Brazendale said.
‘‘Action is required now to ensure that summer pasture growth and milk production is not compromised.’’
Dairy Research Corporation research carried out in Taranaki during the 1980s found that oversowing and undersowing ryegrass seed into damaged pastures increased dry matter production by 1-2t/ha in year one and year two following sowing.
‘‘Dry matter increases of this magnitude easily justify the cost of sowing the seed,’’ said Mr Brazendale.
The DairyNZ-led industry group, comprising researchers, seed industry and contractors has agreed on an approach for farmers faced with this situation and has developed a pasture condition score tool to help them with this assessment.
They recommend farmers carry out a paddock by paddock assessment of the pasture damage on their farm and score paddocks one to five based on the extent of damage.
They should then use the Pasture Condition Score Tool’s suggested actions to establish a plan for each paddock.
South Waikato farmer Andrew Tucker did just this at a recent local discussion group held on the Kihikihi farm he manages.
‘‘DairyNZ farm specialist Chris Glassey spoke at our group and introduced us to the tool. We used it across the farm and found a real mixture of paddock rankings. The tool is a useful and simple one to use – and it was surprising to find the paddocks generally ranked better than I thought they would.’’
GRASS GROWTH: A new DairyNZ tool will tell farmers about the quality of their pasture.