Slow down for better pastures

Slow down for better pastures

1 February 2017

If you want better, more profitable results from your new grass this autumn, consider slowing down the pasture renewal process.

This is the advice from Agriseeds, who have just published a new booklet called Every Seed Counts, which covers six key practices for great pasture renewal.

Agronomist Will Henson says following these guidelines can literally add years to the life of new pasture.

“The question we ask farmers is this: if we offered you three more years of pasture persistence in exchange for spending an extra two weeks getting pasture establishment perfect, would you take it?”

Where possible he encourages farmers to try and establish new pasture the way they establish maize or fodder beet crops.

These typically yield 20-24 tonnes (t) dry matter per hectare (DM/ha) over their lifetime, while pasture potentially yields much more, up to 120 t DM/ha.

“Effectively pasture is a ‘crop’ too, and if you treat it like one, you will be better off,” says Will.

Many farmers are time-poor in autumn, meaning pasture establishment can often be rushed, but Will says this is one job that will reward you for taking the time to get it right.

“When it is done right, sowing new grass and clover gives a return on investment few other areas of farm spending can match, as much as 50 percent per annum. That’s because it provides tonnes of extra high quality feed for as little as 10 cents per kilogram of dry matter (c/kg DM).”

Every Seed Counts

The Every Seed Counts’ booklet shows how to achieve these results by focusing on six key practices:

  1. Choosing the right paddock(s), which will give the highest gains for the lowest cost.
  2. Correcting underlying problems that caused the original pasture to run out in the first place.
  3. Using the right renewal method for your farm system.
  4. Picking the correct pasture cultivars and endophyte, using the DairyNZ Forage Value Index (FVI) to identify which genetics offer the most profit for your farm system.
  5. Sowing the seed carefully, including creating a good seedbed and sowing at the right depth.
  6. Managing new pasture through the first 12 months until it is fully established.

Will says these steps are all links in the chain that makes up successful pasture renewal.

“Pasture is an essential investment in farm profitability. It makes sense to do as good a job as possible to end up with a result you can be proud of.”

If you would like to receive a copy of Every Seed Counts, ask your local Fonterra Farm Source Technical Services Rep, or order one from To plan your autumn pasture renewal programme, talk to your Farm Source team today.

Article supplied by Agriseeds