Effects of integrated cropping & pasture renewal on the performance & profit of dairy farms

Old pasture to new pasture sequences with and without forage cropping were evaluated on representative farms from Waikato, Taranaki, Canterbury (irrigated) and Southland using the Farmax Dairy Pro model.

If no beneficial effects of pasture renewal were assumed, cropping scenarios with turnips (Taranaki) or maize silage (Waikato) increased milksolids (MS) production per ha, but kale (Southland) and no forage crops (all regions) resulted in lower MS yields. The profit of cropping scenarios was similar or less profitable than the base scenarios without pasture renewal or crops.

If beneficial effects of pasture renewal were assumed, the use of forage crops increased profit. Non- crop options also increased profit if the new pastures persisted for at least four years, and increases of either 10% in pasture production or 0.5 MJ ME/kg DM in pasture quality were observed.

Profitable results from cropping and pasture renewal assumed good crop and pasture establishment, and effective utilisation of the feed generated.

In general, if old and renewed paddocks perform similarly (production and quality) and both contain beneficial endophytes, the benefits of cropping or renewal are expected to be small and not economically worthwhile.

For further information, please contact Jeremy Bryant of Dairy NZ (jeremy.bryant@dairynz.co.nz)

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