Paddock performance is measured through gathering data on the weekly farm walk. In the 2020-21 season the farm averaged 15.5 t DM/ha/year. The top 25% performing paddocks grew 18.9 t DM/ha/year and the bottom 25% produced 12.7 t DM/ha/year.
Those paddocks growing annuals over winter, turnips in October and back into perennial ryegrass in March once again topped the charts at 23 t DM/ha/year.
In order to reach our goal of 15 t DM/ha/year Pasture & Crop Harvested, we need to grow over 17.5 t DM/ha/year.
The yield data is analysed every year to determine which paddocks require investment in fertiliser, plant species, weed management or physical characteristics. We also record populations of clover and plantain over the summer months and give each paddock a pasture condition score. We use this information, along with herd logistics and paddock access to shade and water etc, to determine where to grow our brassica crops and which paddocks require pasture renewal.
We continue to see advantageous use of cocksfoot in many of the worst-performing paddocks where soil compaction, soil type, or historical cultivation has led to poorer soil structure and environment for ryegrass alone to persist. Where these issues are not present we continue to use permanent ryegrass cultivars.
We are investing in 4 kg/ha of Ecotain plantain (attempting to maintain 30% plantain) in all new pastures to reduce nitrogen loss and nitrous oxide emissions (and potentially reduce methane emissions). We are also sowing two types of white clover and one red clover to increase clover content in our swards. This will improve feed quality over summer and provide natural nitrogen fixation to offset reduced use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser.
This requires low weed pressure prior to establishment, which is why we follow the Cleancrop Brassica system prior to sowing permanent pastures.
Monthly growth rates for the last four years (calculated from Farmax modelling) can be seen above, which highlights the challenging summers we have had recently. Growth rate through the 2020 spring was also reduced due to the low soil moisture levels after two years of 700-800mm of rainfall.