Lead from the front with new tetraploid

Lead from the front with new tetraploid

1 August 2021

Agriculture is changing fast, but 4front, the new tetraploid perennial ryegrass from Barenbrug, is set to help farmers stay one step ahead, and benefit their animals too.

Palatable and high yielding, 4front grazes well; encourages increased intakes for higher per head performance and can improve environmental outcomes. It also has more tillers than other tetraploids, for improved persistence.

4front is legume friendly and can be sown with Captain CS plantain to further reduce the risk of N leaching.

Graham Kerr, marketing manager for Barenbrug, says 4front offers an exciting opportunity for dairy farmers to reach new heights of efficiency.

“Tetraploids are fantastic nutrition for grazing animals, because they are so palatable and easy to eat, with more ME per mouthful than diploid ryegrass.

“The average dairy cow takes about 25,000 bites of pasture each day, so she’s working hard! 4front makes each mouthful easier to take, and the natural outcome is animals eat more and maximise their potential. As well as being more palatable than diploid perennial ryegrass, tetraploids are also proving to be very valuable for producing milk from fewer stock,” Graham says.

“This is the way we have to start thinking for future New Zealand farming.”

Following the Climate Change Commission’s recent recommendations for reducing Green House Gas emissions in New Zealand, tetraploids like 4front have much to offer farmers in adapting their systems. “Lincoln University Dairy Farm is a dramatic example of what can be achieved here,” Graham says.

“It has reduced cow numbers 12%, cut Nitrogen (N) fertiliser applications by around 150kg N/ha, and sharply limited N leaching by around 40% and GHG by 19%, but is still making the same amount of money. It’s done this by becoming more efficient, and producing more milk per cow, by about 8%, coupled with significant cost savings."

Graham says a key element of the farm’s successful change is the use of tetraploid ryegrass, which has now been sown in all but one paddock, because it remains palatable at higher covers, so pre-grazing cover is 300kg DM/ha higher.

"This doesn’t sound much, but it means more photosynthesis, so the farm is growing over 1.1 tDM/ha/year more — with just this one change! This is a shining example of how our farm systems can be refined to balance both profitablity and sustainability in the future.”

With the highest DM yield of any tetraploid Barenbrug has bred previously, 4front answers farmers’ need for reliable year-round growth, Graham says. Its cool season growth also has the advantage of utilising soil N at the riskiest time of the year for N leaching, he adds. “This benefit isn’t currently recognised by Overseer, but hopefully will be in time.”

Barenbrug plant breeders targeted three goals in developing the new cultivar – to keep the palatability and easy management of previous tetraploids, but in a stronger, more robust pasture, with extra DM yield. Straight 4front pastures won’t suit all systems, but farmers can still benefit from the new cultivar by mixing it with Maxsyn ryegrass for a tetraploid-diploid combination.

“On many farms this has now become the norm, striking a near-ideal balance between pasture palatability and robustness, growing more ME/ha and being easier to manage than straight diploid perennial ryegrass.”

Article supplied by Barenbrug.