Addressing on-farm management to enhance pasture productivity and persistence


  • W.N. Reynolds



Following the 2007/08 drought, we experienced poor pasture production and persistence on our dairy farm in north Waikato, leading to decreased milksolids production and a greater reliance on bought-in feed. It is estimated that the cost of this to our farming operation was about $1300 per hectare per year in lost operating profit. While climate and black beetle were factors, they did not explain everything, and other factors were also involved. In the last 3 years we have changed our management strategies to better withstand dry summers, the catalyst for which was becoming the DairyNZ Pasture Improvement Focus Farm for the north Waikato. The major changes we made were to reduce stocking rate, actively manage pastures in summer to reduce over-grazing, and pay more attention to detail in our pasture renewal programme. To date the result has been a reduced need for pasture renewal, a lift in whole farm performance and increased profitability. Keywords: Focus farm, over-grazing, pasture management, pasture persistence, profitability