It’s official – Shogun is a 30 t DM/ha crop. Thanks to a Bay of Plenty dairy farmer and his reseller rep, we’ve been able to prove for the first time under commercial farming conditions that ryegrass can yield far more DM/ha than most farmers expect.
We’re just about to take the final DM cuts for this trial, but as of 12 February, 11 months after it was sown, a paddock of Shogun had produced 30 t DM/ha under on an irrigated dairy farm at Edgecumbe.
That’s the highest 12 month yield ever recorded for a commercial pasture in New Zealand and it confirms that if your farmers treat their pastures as a crop, rather than just ‘grass’, they will achieve crop-like DM yields. What better way to harness the potential of their existing (and expensive) land?
Typically NZ dairy farms produce 12 - 18 t DM/ha/year, with occasional levels quoted in the literature at over 20 t DM. This study has shown it’s possible to grow and utilise significantly more from an irrigated grass pasture given good pasture renewal practices, appropriate use of fertiliser and good grazing management.
The trial was sown 10 March 2014 on Bruce Woods’ farm at Edgecumbe after Bruce and his rep asked us whether it was actually possible to grow 30 t DM/ha of pasture in a year. Anecdotally, Bealey has yielded up to 26 t DM/ha in the same area, so Shogun was picked as the best option to produce even more.
Edgecumbe has distinct advantages for pasture growth. Bruce’s soils and fertility are good, irrigation is available and the climate means local farmers can grow pasture all year round. Even so, Shogun grew 22 t DM/ha before the water was switched on last year.
The sowing rate was 50 kg/ha and seed was broadcast, then harrowed and rolled. The pasture was grazed by dairy cows based on the three-leaf theory, or canopy closure, to maximise DM yield, to a clean post-grazing residual of 4-5 cm as well as possible.
Three pasture cage cuts of 2 m2 were placed in representative areas of the paddock and the day after each grazing fresh yield was assessed from these cages with sub-samples oven dried to assess DM percentage of herbage, with post grazing residual yield DM also assessed and subtracted to measure ‘pasture disappearance’.
Fertiliser was applied little and often, as recommended by Bruce’s Ballance rep, and N use totalled 275 kg/ha. During winter, Shogun grew 75 kg DM/ha/day.
Download a Shogun brochure here: Shogun Technical Manual.pdf