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Evaluating the economic and production benefit of removing cows from pastures in response to wet soil conditions

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 13:02 authored by Seth LaurensonSeth Laurenson, Tony VanDerWeerden, Pierre Beukes, Iris Vogeler
In New Zealand, intensive grazing by dairy cows on wet pasture has shown to negatively impact soil physical quality and future pasture production. This study used the DairyNZ Whole Farm Model to assess the cost-benefit of implementing a decision support tool (DST) aimed at reducing the time dairy cows spend on pastures with high soil water content. When the DST was implemented, cows were held on a standoff pad for either 4, 8 or 21 hours. Scenario farms were set up in the WFM encompassing four climatic regions of New Zealand and were modelled on either imperfectly drained or poorly drained soils. Regardless of region, soil type or standoff duration, implementation of the DST was not profitable (indicated by a decline in farm operating profit relative to a modelled farm with no standoff i.e. the baseline), except in one single instance. Furthermore, improved pasture growth gains, by implementing the DST were minimal or in some cases negative (21 hours standoff) due to poor pasture management. Farms located on poorly drained soils (as opposed to imperfectly drained soils) experienced considerably more wet days per year, thereby increasing the frequency of standoff pad use. This in turn led to a considerable increase in operational costs and, in the case of the 21 hour standoff, costs associated with the provision of feed. Results indicate that any financial benefit that was gained from protecting imperfectly drained and poorly drained soils was mitigated by a high capital repayment and operational cost. This study does not address any environmental benefit of the DST, which has been addressed in an accompanying paper.


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© 2017 AgResearch Limited


  • English

Does this contain Māori information or data?

  • No


Taylor & Francis Group

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New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research




Laurenson, S., VanDerWeerden, T. J., Beukes, P. C., & Vogeler, I. (2017). Evaluating the economic and production benefit of removing cows from pastures in response to wet soil conditions. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research, 60(3), 223-244. doi:10.1080/00288233.2017.1298630


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