The field day on November 13 will include farmer speakers from the east coast of both islands (all of whom have been involved with legume trials) who will share their experiences of establishing, managing and feeding legumes in different environments and under different farm systems.
Annabel Craw says one of the objectives of the day is to highlight that with legumes, it is horses for courses and while some of the basic principles remain the same, farmers need to adapt their management practices to suit the legume, their environment and their farming systems.
Over the past four years, the Craws have been running a Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Innovation Farm project on their farm, trialling the strategic application of sprays – combined with management practices – to grow an additional three tonne of drymatter on uncultivable hill country by increasing the legume content of the sward to 40 per cent.
The field day will include a farm tour of Longridge, the Craw’s Little Akaloa farm, to view a range of spray treatments and the impact they have had on pasture composition on their hill country. Farm consultant Wayne Allen will also crunch the numbers and provide insight into how increasing legume content in the Craws’ uncultivable hill country has impacted on their whole farm whole system.
Alister Black from Lincoln University’s Dryland Pastures Research Group will also present the latest liveweight gain data from the Group’s legume grazing trials.
Legumes have come under the spotlight in recent years as farmers look to these powerhouse plants to drive production particularly in dryland and hill country environments.
With their ability to fix nitrogen at a rate of 30kg/tonne of drymatter and use water efficiently, legumes are becoming increasingly important as an environmentally sound way to introduce nitrogen into a pastoral system.
A number of research trials have focused on the management of legumes to maximise productivity and profitability in different environments. These include two Beef + Lamb New Zealand Innovation Farm projects, Max clover trials at Lincoln University’s Ashley Dene dry land site and the Lincoln University-led Sub 4 Spring research project which was run at several trial sites along the east coast of both Islands and one in the extreme climate of Omarama.
The second B+LNZ Innovation Farm project, now in its second year, incorporates three farms, one in Gisborne, one in Hawkes Bay and one in the Wairarapa. While all three are looking at establishing and increasing legume content in hill country, each has a slightly different focus and there are environmental variances between the three properties.
All three Innovation farmers will be sharing their experiences at the field day, along with North Canterbury farmer Hugh Dampier-Crossley who, along with his wife Lucy ran a Sub 4 Spring trial on one of the most unproductive parts of Koromiko, their hill country farm near Cheviot.
Annabel says this field day marks the conclusion of their Innovation Farm programme and will be an ideal opportunity for farmers – and anyone interested – to see what worked for them but also to hear how other farmers in other climates and environments are managing and using legumes to drive both productivity and profitability.