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mixed species pasture

Twelve months ago we were challenged to prove the dry matter returns of our mixed species pasture. I suggested 22,000 kg/ha of dry matter would be likely but we were challenged to trail this in Taranaki. Using a cage method, cuts were started in July 2019. Hills Laboratories weighed and tested the pasture samples. By December 2019 it became apparent that the end result would be better than 30,000 kg/ha of dry matter which was above our expectation. 34,725 kg/ha of dry matter was, in fact, the full years yield return.

This result compares very well to irrigated dairy land in Mid-Canterbury. This dairy land has center pivot irrigation and receives regular urea applications whereas our mixed species pasture has incurred none of these costs but is achieving comparable results.
If one dairy cow eats 5,500 kg/dry matter per year, our mixed species pasture trial would support roughly 6 cows per hectare. Even if we achieved a dry matter result of twenty percent less and reduced our cow numbers by the same amount, we would still be able to support 4 cows per hectare. This is still well above the national average and not a fodder beet in site! 

How is it that you can grow this much feed?

Below is a graph of the dry matter results over the year of the trial:

Trail results

 

As you can see from the graph above, the average return in summer and winter is relatively similar. This is achieved by using winter active species in the mixture which means no spring blow out and all plants get to enjoy a view of the sun over the year.
It is not a myth and we have shown that. Mixed species pasture can be very productive.