Persistence pays off for new forage manager

The addition of persistence and metabolisable energy traits to the DairyNZ Forage Value Index (FVI) are regarded as key targets for Cameron Ludemann in his new role as forage value manager.

Ludemann, originally from a mixed farm in Mid Canterbury, has significant knowledge of pasture persistence having recently completed a PhD on the value of changes in perennial ryegrass traits for Australian dairy farmers.

“I am very excited to get the chance to use the methods I developed during my PhD and apply them to the New Zealand dairy industry,” Ludemann said.

Although Ludemann recently published a method of assessing the value of pasture persistence he said adding the persistence trait to the FVI, which currently only includes seasonal drymatter yield traits, would present a big challenge.

“How well pastures persist is a hot topic when I talk to dairy farmers yet when I ask them what they mean by persistence you get many different answers. So we need to come up with a definition that is practical and measurable.

“We also need to overcome the challenge of finding early persistence indicators that predict how long a ryegrass cultivar might persist before needing renewal.”

He also encouraged farmers to view the latest FVI lists at when making their cultivar selection decisions.

Ludemann will discuss the FVI at the DairyNZ farm open day to be held on April 30 at Scott Farm in Waikato and at the Lincoln University Research Dairy Farm on May 13.