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Milestone in pasture evaluation to be unveiled

Friday, 18 May 2012

For immediate release

Milestone in pasture evaluation to be unveiled

A rating system for pasture grasses based on economic performance, to be known as the DairyNZ Forage Value Index, will be unveiled to dairy farmers in Hamilton this Thursday [May 24] at the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum.

The creation of the Forage Value Index is considered a significant and valuable milestone for the future profitability of the dairy industry in New Zealand.

DairyNZ’s Strategy and Investment Leader for Productivity, Dr Bruce Thorrold, will be presenting the new Forage Value Index to the Farmers’ Forum along with the President of NZPBRA (New Zealand Plant Breeding and Research Association) Dr Brian Patchett.

The Forage Value Index is a collaboration between the two organisations and for the first time will provide an independent science and profit based evaluation system for perennial ryegrasses that will allow farmers to understand which grasses are likely to give the best financial returns for their particular conditions.

“The dairy industry has good systems for assessing the merits of dairy cattle and big advances have been made. But farmers and researchers have been concerned for some time that evaluation and performance of forages has not kept up. The Forage Value Index and the supporting science will provide better information to support farm profitability and competitiveness,” says Dr Thorrold.

NZPBRA President Dr Brian Patchett says the Forage Value Index will be available to farmers via and rates perennial ryegrass cultivars based on seasonal dry matter production in different parts of the country. Traits such as energy concentration and persistence will be added over time as more information becomes available via DairyNZ and NZPBRA initiatives.

Initially there will be approximately 15 different perennial ryegrass cultivars ranked in the Forage Value Index, with each cultivar rated based on estimated profit per hectare (the Forage Value Index) for the region where it is grown. Additional cultivars will be eligible for a Forage Value Index later in the year after another set of information from the 2011/12 season becomes available. The Forage Value Index itself will also be strengthened over the next few years by incorporating additional traits.

The Forage Value Index website will also provide information for farmers on pasture renewal decisions and pasture management.


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