NZ Dairy Winter 2022

84 | nzdairy Southern Dairy Karen Phelps A winter grazing project undertaken by Southern Dairy Hub and Southland farmers has netted some interesting results, says Southern Dairy Hub general manager Louise Cook. The project saw cultivation methods compared to determine how direct drilling, strip tilling or conventional crop establishment methods affected soil stability in crop paddocks in inclement weather with regards to animal welfare targets. The project spanned various farms, soil types and locations. Louise says, that while there were some bene ts to minimum tillage this was only during inclement weather so the advantages were “not going to be a silver bullet”. The minimum tillage fodder beet also yielded up to 40% less crop, though kale paddocks had negligible yield differences. The fodder beet result was ultimately because of increased insect pest pressure with minimum tillage leading to poorer plant survival, she says. For winter 2022 the hub will take these ndings and examine what else could be done to mitigate the issues that aren’t yet resolved. Louise says that the project is not giving up on minimum tillage fodder beet establishment and has already made changes. This year paddocks were sprayed out a day before sowing crops. Early indications are that this has resulted in less than a 5% loss of yield in the minimum tilled paddocks compared with conventional cultivation. The Hub has also planted ‘buffer zone’ grass margins at the ends of all crop paddocks. Louise says the purpose is to explore what this tool might offer around managing animal welfare during very inclement weather. “There are two parts to this. DAIRY PEOPLE » Southern Dairy Hub | 027 432 2227 | 516 Collinson Rd, Tussock Creek, Invercargill Agriculture • Commercial • Scenic & Adventure Southland Helicopters o ers a wide range of services including, agricultural spraying and bucket operations, commercial operations and scenic lights over stunning southland and surrounding areas. Our pilots are supported by our highly trained ground crew team. The team are all locally based and are dedicated to providing a safe, e icient and professional service. The paddock must be set up correctly with cows grazing into the weather (in a south or west direction) to protect the feed face. So when lighter or shorter periods of rain occur cows head towards the back fence area, walking away from the rain. This protects the feed face from damage, as today’s feed face is the best and driest area for cows to lie down to rest on. The second part is to have a Plan B – the buffer zone – so the cows can head there in the really wet weather.” Another part of the overall strategy is examining the advantages of brassica, kale and grass/ baleage as winter crops. This year half of the trial will include wintering on grass/baleage as it is a newer option farmers in Southland have been trying and the hub has not looked at this option before. “With grass/baleage cows can be offered a bigger area of paddock to be able to sit down during wet weather compared with fodder beet, for example, where cows will just eat too much crop and risk getting get acidosis if the area is increased. This potentially offers an interesting option for farmers moving forward.” The Southern Dairy Development Trust and its fully owned registered trading company, the Southern Demonstration and Research Farm, was established by local farmers in 2007 to assist, support and encourage existing dairy farmers and those interested in joining the dairy industry for general educational purposes. It allows farmer-led and local issues to be researched on Southland soils and in southern conditions. The farm has a milking platform of 309ha and a 39ha support block. The 750 cows are divided into four herds, each operating a different system depending on what is being researched.