Show me the money – calculating $$ return on summer crops

If it’s a choice between doing nothing with a poor paddock this spring, or sowing it in chicory or turnips, you’re better off cropping it.


With much higher DM yield and feed quality over summer, the crops can generate surprisingly good net returns compared with run out pasture.


A new summer crop calculator based on the $3.85/kg MS payout allows dairy farmers to work out their own return on investment from sowing chicory or turnips this season.


And provided they take steps to ensure a good crop, the bottom line still stacks up very well, according to the company behind the calculator.Paddock of 501 Chicory

“Dairy farmers need to be confident they’ll get good returns for money spent on summer crop this year,” says Waikato agronomist Will Henson, Agriseeds. 


“The positive news is that even at $3.85/kg MS, there’s still money to be made from spraying out poor growing paddocks and sowing 501 Chicory or Dynamo turnips this season.


“We’ve compared the costs and returns for both crops compared with doing nothing, in other words leaving poor paddocks as they are through summer.”


“In a typical situation sowing chicory gives a net return over doing nothing of $1050/ha in the 2015/16 season while sowing summer turnips gives a net return over doing nothing of $970/ha.”


Henson says over summer poor grass paddocks may grow five tonnes DM/ha, or less if it’s dry, with an ME level of 10.5 MJ ME/kg DM, ‘if you’re lucky’.


An average crop of 501 Chicory, on the other hand, will grow 10.5 t DM/ha in the same period while Dynamo turnips will average 11.5 t DM/ha. Their quality is much higher, too – 12 MJ ME/kg DM.


Chicory and turnips both also provide an opportunity to break the insect pest cycle and ease grazing pressure on pastures across the rest of the farm during the heat of summer.


To make this plan succeed, farmers have to pick the right paddock for chicory or turnips, one which is known to be a poor performer and easy to crop. They also have to grow a high yielding crop, taking no shortcuts.


“The more DM/ha, the cheaper the price of that DM on a c/kg basis, and that’s what it is all about.”


Will Henson says all workings behind the sums can be found in Agriseeds’ new free summer crop booklet, and the crop benefit calculator can be downloaded free here: