The importance of annual forage crops to arable cropping rotations has increased with growth of the dairy industry. Annual forages are primarily grown as a feed supplement for grazing animals when pasture growth is limited or to extend lactation. By feeding cows forage crops through the winter, pasture productivity is conserved and the risk of nutrient loss is minimalised. Research at FAR focuses on optimising the integration and management of forage crops in cropping rotations to maximise productively and whole-system profitability.
Whole crop cereal silage
FAR has been researching whole crop cereal silage for several years. Cereal silage offers a low-input option to fill windows within standard crop rotations as sowing and harvest dates are flexible.
Brassicas and Fodder beet
The inclusion of winter grazing crops has seen explosive growth in Canterbury and Southland. Based on forage brassica seed levy figures collected by FAR, in excess of 400,000 ha are planted each year.
Research trials are addressing key agronomic questions around crop establishment and management. A close collaboration has been formed between FAR and other industry sector groups to bring together sound generic advice on winter forage crops, while keeping a close eye on the potential effects on the profitability of the whole rotation and good practice management to preserve and restore soil conditions.