With on farm challenges continuing to create higher input costs for farmers, many are looking to increase the value of feed grown at home.
Sovereign Kale has been a high-performing kale and a household name for many farmers across New Zealand for several years. But with the need to increase production and quality, a new generation kale called SovGold has arrived at the perfect time. After years of trialling and development, SovGold has proven itself in trials and on farm when it comes to yield, metabolisable energy (ME) and utilisation against Sovereign.
Southern Manawatu farmer Matt Easton has been an early adopter and has transitioned to SovGold kale with the help of Farm Source TSR, Linda Hally. Matt is running a 400 hectare (ha) dairy support unit on a 640 ha Whirokino property, north of Waitarere. The farm is comprised of hard sand dunes and coastal flats and its main role is to dripfeed cows back to the dairy platform close to calving. With the farm system and mix of soil types, Matt faces huge pressure through dry summers (but also in winter months) with increased stocking rates. Over the winter period an additional 1,500 MA dairy cows arrive on farm along with 200 beef cattle. “Winter cropping tools such as SovGold kale and fodder beet are key parts to running our farming operation,” Matt says.
Currently the cropping rotation is 20 ha of SovGold kale and eight ha of fodder beet. “We have to make a trade-off between yield and use of the crops, so a medium class of soil has to be chosen which can have a slight impact on yield but increases utilisation and promotes kind wintering for the animals,” says Matt. Kale is used in conjunction with fodder beet and the later calving cows are put onto the kale. Over the eight weeks the stock were on SovGold, Matt was able to add one body condition score (BCS) on the cows, taking them from a BCS of 4.5 up to a 5.5, the pre-calving target. Holding quality is extremely important for Matt’s planned calving start date; a kale like SovGold will do this extremely well and its late flowering date provides flexibility at the end of winter.
Matt planted his SovGold crop on December 3 and it yielded eight to 10 tonnes (t) across 20 ha. “This is a great result considering the class of soil the crops have been sown on and the growing season itself.” SovGold has been bred with stem quality in mind, not only increasing the quality of the feed, but also helping to increase the utilisation of the crop regardless of the stock type. “I’m impressed with how well they are cleaning it up, even after a wet night,” says Matt.
For more information on SovGold, talk to your local TSR or visit your local Farm Source store.
Article supplied by Agricom