OLW_AgR_FarmerFactSheet_DrystockSummerCrops.pdf (421.33 kB)

Summer forage crops: Options for a drystock farm based on a Waikato case study

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posted on 2024-06-21, 04:07 authored by Tracy DaleTracy Dale, Phil Weir, Katherine TozerKatherine Tozer
Options are required for drystock farmers to fill the summer feed gap. As part of the 'Summer-safe multi-species cattle pasture' project funded by the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, a 0.07 ha plot study and two case study paddocks were established in September 2021 on a drystock finishing property at Te Pahu, Waikato, New Zealand. We compared a range of simple four-species mixtures and hyper-diverse mixtures containing over ten species, with a brassica monoculture. Key performance indicators included herbage production, metabolisable energy (ME), weed incursion and production costs. Key findings: • Simple mixtures provided a viable alternative to a brassica monoculture based on energy yield and energy costs. The most promising option was a simple rape-dominant mixture which contained rape, plantain and a cereal. It had a high energy yield, low weed abundance and a low metabolisable energy cost. • Hyper-diverse mixtures did not provide energy yield or energy cost advantages when compared to a simple mixture. • Plantain contributed little to total dry matter in mid-summer but provided forage at the end of February for a second grazing. • The cereal established rapidly and reduced weed ingress in the rape-dominant mixture harvested in mid-summer. • A diverse mix may have lower weed ingress, but herbicide options are also limited. • Further research is required to validate these preliminary findings by comparing crop mixture performance at a range of sites over several years. Crop and livestock production data are required.


Funded by the New Zealand Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment's Our Land and Water National Science Challenge (Toitū te Whenua, Toiora te Wai) as part of project Rural Professionals Fund 2021–22


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