Trying a new pasture mix to improve farm productivity

Monday 01.08.2022 , News

Tim McRae’s Southland farm has been in his wife Justine’s family for more than 90 years, but the generational farmers aren’t afraid to try new technologies and products to get the best out of their land.

Located just south of Edendale, Tim milks 500 cows on their 240-hectare property. The farm also has a wintering shed and runs around 80 beef cattle each year.

A new pasture mix is sown

Three years ago, after a discussion with his seed representative, Tim decided to try a new pasture mix and incorporated Germinal’s Aber High Sugar Grass (HSG), AberGain, to improve soil fertility and production.

“The mix that we’re using seems to handle it really well. It’s been a nice fast rotation and we’re getting a good establishment out of it,” he says.

“It’s been relatively clean, we haven’t had to spray for weeds, and it’s allowed it to get off to a good start and then it just seems to grow and grow!”

Reseeding pasture to increase production

Tim says they reseed about 10% of the farm each year and it’s a crucial part of their production. They reseed a couple of paddocks as soon as the farm has a surplus in spring and then they plant another round in February – including paddocks from their winter wheat that get harvested for silage.  

“Our young grass is pretty important to us to keep the productivity of the farm up. We target our poorer performing paddocks and get the new species into them,” he says.

“You spend a lot of money when you regrass and it’s nice to be able to get the performance back out of it.”

Perennial ryegrass proves profitable for this dairy farmer

The 2022 DairyNZ Forage Value Index (FVI) identifies Germinal’s AberGain AR1 as a strong four-star cultivar for the South Island and lower North Island – making it a profitable perennial ryegrass variety for dairy farmers in these regions.

Around 40 hectares of Tim’s farm uses Germinal’s Aber (HSG) in its pasture mix and he says they’ve already seen great results in terms of growth.

The farm’s average grass growth was around 12 tonnes last year, in one of the toughest growing seasons, but the paddocks using High Sugar Grass grew around 14 tonnes.

“It’s worth quite a bit of money when you quantify the grass,” says Tim. “It’s an extra two tonnes, and at 23 cents a kilo to buy, that’s another $460 a hectare. It’s well worth it, especially in a year where we’ve had pretty tough growing conditions.

“If you’re taking a risk and trying something new, you want to make sure you’re getting the benefits long-term.

“We haven’t got paddocks that are eight or nine years old yet, but from what we’ve seen so far it’s been really good and those three-year-old paddocks are performing very well.”

For advice on reseeding pasture, please ask our pasture experts.