Why choosing the right cultivar is so important

Some decisions have a lot of influence over the on-going profitability of any investment in pasture renewal - cultivar selection is one .


The right pasture gives the best bang for every buck; the also-rans only partly deliver. Perceived seed cost ‘savings’ up front cannot compensate for lack of yield, quality and/or seasonal growth over the coming seasons, so doing the numbers at this stage of the process is key to capturing the full financial benefit of new pasture.


As you can see below, we’ve done some Return On Investment (ROI) calculations comparing certified Trojan NEA2 with Nui in a dairy scenario. We’ve also done the same for sheep and beef. The dollar differences alone should be enough to make any farmer think twice about cultivar choice.


And this financial advantage does not include the inherent benefit of NEA2 endophyte, Trojan’s higher ME value nor its ability to grow extra DM during the critical shoulder seasons.


There’s another good tool to help dairy farmers work out which ryegrass cultivar has the potential to generate the best ROI for money spent on pasture renewal this autumn. The DairyNZ Forage Value Index (FVI) places an economic value on seasonal DM yield for different pasture cultivars in the four main growing regions of NZ. It then compares this value against the average performance of all similar cultivars first trialled in the NFVT before 1996.


Again using Nui as an example, the FVI quickly shows this 40 year old cultivar is $148/ha less profitable than the average modern ryegrass. See the www.dairynz.co.nz website for more on this.


Take home message: Choice of cultivar plays a major role in determining how much profit will be made from every ha of new pasture sown this autumn. Don’t compromise long term economic and physical performance for the sake of short term economy – it’s just not worth it.