27 Mar 2012

Farmers could gain 20% income lift from regular pasture renewal

3:00 pm on 27 March 2012

A new economic report says replacing pasture more regularly could give pastoral farmers a 20% lift in their incomes.

But despite the benefits, it shows there has been little momentum amongst farmers to increase their rate of pasture renewal.

The analysis by Business and Economic Research (BERL) says the value of dairy, sheep and beef products has grown by almost 60% in five years to more than $16 billion last season. However, it says farmers could add another $3 billion a year to that by renewing pastures more frequently.

The report updates an analysis BERL did for the Pasture Renewal Trust about three years ago.

Kel Sanderson, a director at BERL, says there has been a slight increase in pasture renewal on dairy farms to something over 6% a year.

However, he says investment in new pasture on sheep and beef farms remains low at about 2% and that is a surprise, considering the potential lift in income that is possible from renewing tired pasture more regularly.

Pasture Renewal Trust chairman Murray Willocks says while the level of investment in new pasture remains low, there is a much greater awareness about the value of pasture and the difference it can make.

Federated Farmers supports a greater focus on pasture as the engine room of the New Zealand economy. President Bruce Wills says instead of using fertiliser to squeeze more production out of tired pasture, it is more effective if applied to fresh pasture.