Quantifying the value proposition for white clover persistence on a New Zealand summer-dry hill-country farm
Keywords:botanical composition, over-sowing, simulation model, soil water
The improvement in forage quality and quantity of summer-dry hill country pasture resulting from the introduction of clover is well recognised. However, ensuring the persistence of the commonly available
cultivars is challenging, in the face of seasonal moisture stress, intensive grazing, competition from established well-adapted pasture species, low soil fertility and low soil pH – conditions typical of the East Coast of the North Island. Here we quantify the value proposition associated with the introduction of white clover into a case study on a Gisborne sheep and beef farm, using a six-step process. A topographically explicit approach is taken, using an understanding of the underlying spatial variability, based on a combination of soil and pasture measurements, APSIM simulation modelling of pasture growth and farm system modelling of enterprise performance. We show that from a baseline of a typical low-fertility, diverse species hill country pasture, white clover introduction can increase spring and summer forage consumption by 17%, enabling inclusion of an additional 6-month bull finishing enterprise generating a 32% greater carcass weight production and leading to a 49% improvement in farm system EBIT. This represents a positive net present value of over $360,000 for the original investment in white clover establishment into existing pastures.
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