Performance of new dairy pastures


  • A.L. Taylor
  • T.J. Fraser
  • W. McG King



It is common practice to renew old and "run-out" pastures that are not performing. Renewing pasture is costly so it is critical that the regrassing pays off. This trial on ten irrigated dairy farms from North Canterbury to North Otago was initiated to determine the value of regrassing on long term production and persistence of the new pastures. A pasture, deemed as run-out by the farmer, was subdivided and one half was renewed to a novel endophyte ryegrass pasture while the remainder of the paddock remained in the old pasture. The new pasture was compared with the original and another pasture on the same farm, considered by the farmer to be high performing. Pasture composition, production, and quality and pasture pests and endophyte infection have been monitored for two years. Herbage production is presented for the first 2 years of an ongoing trial, with quality and determination of wild/novel endophyte. When averaged across all 10 farms, the "control", "new" and "good" paddocks have all produced 15 t DM/ha in the year to May 2012. Levels of novel endophyte have remained high in the majority of new paddocks over the first 2 years. Clover root weevil is now present on all ten farms, at high levels (>200/m2) in some paddocks. Production from the new pastures equalled the total DM production from old pastures within 10 months of sowing. However, 2 years following pasture renewal, there has been no production advantage achieved from regrassing a stable old pasture. Keywords: pasture renewal, pasture persistence, irrigated dairy pastures, endophyte, pasture production, pasture composition







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