12 Dec 2011

Farmers rush to take advantage of grass surplus

1:28 pm on 12 December 2011

Farmers across the country are trying to make the most of the grass surplus before it loses its quality.

Good growing conditions in most areas during spring resulted in plenty of grass, which lead to a record milk flush for Fonterra and less work for meat processors as farmers held back stock to graze them for longer.

Chris Glassie, a DairyNZ farm systems specialist, says at this time of year grass begins to go to seed, reducing the quality of the pasture.

He says after such a good growing season there will be more dead and stem matter around, making it harder for new leaves and clover to grow through.

Mr Glassie says it has been more difficult to manage the pasture and its quality going into summer.

He says farmers need to manage grass surpluses when they have them, by putting it into silage or hay or having stock available to eat it.

Grass rating system

Meanwhile, a new rating system created by DairyNZ could save dairy farmers hundreds of dollars per hectare by helping them choose the best grass for their properties.

The industry body says there is a lack of consistent information on the 30 perennial ryegrass cultivars and farmers can not compare their traits in terms of profit.

Dr David Chapman, a scientist for feed and farm systems, says farmers re-sow about 5% to 10% of their land per year and pasture is expected to last an average of 10 years.

He says the Forage Value Index will help farmers to choose the best ryegrass for their farms.

The system will be available on DairyNZ's website from May next year.