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Powering conversions for the future

Powering conversions for the future

For immediate release
14 December 2007

It’s the best deal going, but it is often overlooked.

New generation grass and clover seed costs less than 1 per cent of the total cost of converting a new dairy farm.

Yet it generates a significant proportion of income for years to come.
Recent estimates put the total price for conversion averaging close to $50,000/ha, including cows, shares, land and farm infrastructure but not including irrigation.

The seed for a standard proprietary pasture mix like Bronsyn Plus AR1, Kotare and Sustain can cost $240/ha.

“That’s 0.48% of the total cost of conversion!” says Jason Gardner, upper South Island area manager for Agriseeds.

“If you exclude cows, typical conversion costs are about $34,000/ha, comprising land, shares, and development. Even in this context proprietary grass seed makes up only 0.7 per cent of the cost.

“Which is nothing, especially for something that provides the powerhouse of any conversion. If you’re putting in irrigation, the true cost of seed as a percentage of conversion costs will be even less.”

In most South Island situations pastures will generate over 90 per cent of the forage consumed. Therefore it is essential to have the most productive pasture varieties available, Jason Gardner says.

New pasture varieties typically grow 6-8 tonnes more DM/ha (or 50-100%) than old poorer producing grass and clover.

They produce more MS/ha, have higher ME, recover from grazing quicker, have better seasonal growth and are easier to manage for optimal quality.

Because of this superior performance, new generation pastures typically pay for themselves within year one, meaning the following years are all profit, he points out.

The true cost of proprietary pasture seed in the context of a conversion may come as a shock to many farmers, he says.

“There is a lot of money tied up in land, cows and shares. Taking some time to check out existing pastures and which varieties to sow will help maximise this investment.
“Looking for ways to ‘save’ on pastures, in most cases is just false economy, if not potentially a cost in the future.”

Old pastures may look good in the spring, but will never match newer varieties when it comes to delivering the DM and ME per ha throughout the rest of the year. Both of these characteristics are essential to keep new conversions firing for the long haul.

“Regardless of how you do the sums, proprietary grass seed is an insignificant expense in the bigger picture of converting a dairy property.”


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