Looking after the environment a key driver

Looking after the environment a key driver

25 August 2019

Jose Hambler is a sharemilker on a dairy farm in Brynderwyn in Northland, having recently moved from a contract milking position in South Taranaki.

He’s an advocate for the preservation of the environment and after previous success with Ecotain environmental plantain, Jose is looking to implement this technology on the Northland property.

Ecotain environmental plantain has received a lot of media attention recently due to its ability to significantly reduce nitrogen (N) leaching from the urine patch.

A Lincoln University study using lysimeters showed an 89% reduction in N leaching from the urine patch when Ecotain was combined with an Italian ryegrass, compared with pastures without Ecotain. A similar lysimeter study using perennial ryegrass and Ecotain showed a reduction in N leaching from the urine patch of 74 percent.

In addition, Ecotain provides significant agronomic benefits to a farming system and can help farmers make great strides in the environmental area without compromising on production.

Ecotain can be established using multiple methods, and Jose opts for a combination of direct drilling and broadcasting.

“In Taranaki we were direct drilling and broadcasting with fertiliser in run-out pastures,” explains Jose. “The results we achieved were just phenomenal.

“The Ecotain established itself quickly and was great feed for the cows, and I was impressed with its growth in the summer dry,” he said.

Ecotain is suitable for two to three years and provides the autumn and winter growth critical for capturing excess N during wet conditions. It also contributes invaluable dry matter (DM) production, typically at times of the year when ryegrass struggles such as summer and early autumn.

The inclusion of Ecotain is also beneficial from an animal health perspective. It contains a high mineral content and high forage quality with good protein levels, along with the ability to increase milk production during summer when ryegrass struggles.

With the Northland property featuring a slightly different topography to the Taranaki property, Jose will look to broadcast Ecotain onto the hills and direct drill onto the flatter terrain.

“This spring we will be using Ecotain with our fert,” says Jose. “We will be following the cows with the urea spreader. This gives the Ecotain the best opportunity to establish itself and then going forward we can use Ecotain in the summer periods,” says Jose.

Other options for getting Ecotain on farm include sowing it with new perennial pastures. This can be established the same way as ryegrass/white clover pastures. Undersowing via direct drilling or broadcasting into damaged and open pastures works well to extend the life of pastures as well as providing environmental benefits.

Jose has found broadcasting Ecotain is a useful addition when applying fertiliser.

Ecotain dominant stands or Ecotain stands with clover are also effective implementation strategies. An Ecotain-dominant stand provides high and consistent levels of Ecotain content and fits very well as a short rotation forage or as a break crop in a pasture renovation programme (similar in use to Italian or hybrid pastures).

Including clover is ideal for two to three year lactation feeding or as an inter-crop restorative phase.

Jose says: “We are hoping we can tick a few boxes with this product as we are looking to preserve the environment and want to farm on this land for future generations.

“We want to look after the environment and it is a big thing for us. We believe we can achieve this by using Ecotain.”

For more information on how to implement Ecotain on your farm talk to your local Farm Source TSR.

Article supplied by Agricom