Profit, productivity, and eco-efficiency of using Caucasian clover/ grass pastures in hill country farms




The following study was conducted to establish whether significant amounts of Caucasian clover-based pastures in hill country farms can increase eco-efficiency and profitability. Published data were used to predict the production of Caucasian clover-based pastures, based on weather data and soil moisture deficit prediction, for four sheep and beef farms with low rainfall in the South Island. Scenarios with 10, 20 or 30% of the flat and rolling areas improved with Caucasian clover/grass pastures were compared to current systems based on resident white clover-based pastures. A staged approach, to utilise the extra high-quality feed produced, used a sequentially process to improve productivity by increasing lamb finishing, higher hogget liveweight, better ewe nutrition or more beef finishing, depending on initial efficiency metrics. Time
to maximum production using an annual establishment programme of 5% of the target areas in Caucasian clover/grass mixtures took 4 to 6.5 years (10% and 30% respectively). Adding Caucasian clover/grass increased pasture production by 5.5% while product/kg DM consumed increased by 12.8% and profitability by 22% when either sheep or beef production were used to capture the extra amount and quality of pasture. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were increased by only 6.3%, resulting in more efficient meat production. 


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