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Big Swing to Proprietary Pastures

Big Swing to Proprietary Pastures as Farmers Aim for Resiliency

New Zealand farmers have turned to high yield, high quality proprietary pastures to get their properties back up to speed after recent adverse weather events.

Latest market data show over 8700 tonnes of perennial, hybrid, Italian and annual ryegrass seed were sold in 2013, well up from 7300 tonnes sold in 2012.

Over the past five years, total proprietary ryegrass seed sales have exceeded 37,500 tonnes which at an average sowing rate of 20kg/ha are enough to cover 2.1 million hectares – the equivalent of 35 Lake Taupos.

Thomas Chin, general manager of the New Zealand Plant Breeding and Research Association, says it’s great to see farmers increasingly using modern purpose-bred pastures to build resiliency into their farm systems.

“In farming, times of adversity via droughts or floods undoubtedly occur and better times do return.

Investing in the very best technology and resources available is one way farmers can mitigate the risk of adverse weather and improve their chances of a rapid recovery, and proprietary pasture is a key component of such a strategy.”

Specialised modern pasture cultivars are generally superior to old cultivars, are more resilient, and can better last the distance.

“It is true such an investment is no guarantee against Mother Nature but it can be seen as an insurance policy of sorts. Thanks to New Zealand’s nternationally recognised plant breeding and research industry, farmers today can choose from the most innovative and productive pasture seed suitable for a range of local climates, stock type and farm systems.”

The latest sales data covers proprietary ryegrass, clover, cocksfoot, tall fescue and lucerne seed and comes from NZPBRA member companies. Nearly 670 tonnes of clover seed were sold in 2013 (compared with 650 tonnes in 2012), with 200 tonnes of tall fescue (217 tonnes) and 150 tonnes of lucerne (115 tonnes).

Combined with proprietary ryegrass sales, these species take the total amount of seed sold over the past five years to approximately 43,000 tonnes.

Chin says that’s good news for both farming and the economy as a whole. “The productive gains from modern plant genetics and pasture innovation have already proven their worth in today’s pastoral farm systems. The role they play in underpinning New Zealand’s productive base will only increase in the future.”

One such instance is for dairy farmers where DairyNZ in conjunction with the NZPBRA has just released new Forage Value Indices for ryegrass cultivars for both 12 Month and Winter Feed categories.

The first is for dairy farmers looking for economic ratings and seasonal performance values for ryegrass cultivars for 12 month production, while the second is for those seeking information on cultivars with fast establishment and excellent pasture production through winter and early spring, Chin says.

Perennial Ryegrass Forage Value Index lists have also been updated with the latest data from NZPBRA. Dairy Farmers would use these lists if they are looking for the perennial ryegrass cultivars for multi-year performance. All lists can be found at


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