New tool ranks pas­ture con­di­tion

Farm­ers urged to plan ahead

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY -

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.’’

Photo: WAIKATO TIMES

GRASS GROWTH: A new DairyNZ tool will tell farm­ers about the qual­ity of their pas­ture.

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