Short-term pain for long-term gain | Beef + Lamb New Zealand

Short-term pain for long-term gain

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Innovation farmers Hamish and Annabel Craw have been trialling the use of chemicals to increase the quality and quantity of pastures on uncultivable parts of their Banks Peninsula farm.
Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Part two of a four-part series about the project looks at the value of clovers in a pasture system.

Hamish and Annabel admit that in a dry year when feed is short, spraying out pasture can be a difficult decision.

However, the long-term gains far outweigh this short-term pain. Having more clover in the system means more N is being fixed and this N drives overall drymatter production. Between 300 and 400kg of N is required to grow 12T/DM.

But it is the quality that is the most important factor and the total energy available in the sprayed treatment was 22,197 MJME compared to 13,658 MJME in the control area.

Chemicals versus grazing

While some hill country farmers are looking to build clover content in hill country by fine-tuning their grazing management to remove competing vegetation and allowing seed to set, the Craws have chosen to use chemicals to break down thatch that has built up over the years.

Unpalatable to stock, once that thatch is opened up and clover allowed to flourish, then grazing management should be sufficient to keep the sward open and the clover content high.

With more N in the system, poor quality grasses become more palatable and this makes grazing management so much easier.