Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 

Catch Crops After Winter Forage Grazing A Win-win For Farmers, Environment

Hardy catch crops such as oats are showing major promise for mopping up excess nitrogen after winter grazing and could create a win-win for farmers in terms of their environmental footprint and profitability.

Dr Peter Carey, a Lincoln Agritech Field Researcher, is leading a three-year Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) research programme, in conjunction with Plant and Food Research, to apply the use of catch crops more widely in winter forage rotations.

Dr Carey, who completed a PhD at Lincoln University on the use of catch crops, found that they can reduce nitrate leaching by as much as 40%. This study looks to extend his research and apply it directly to commercial farms in Canterbury and Southland. The project aims to adapt their use to the different soils and climatic conditions of each region.

“Catch crop strategies are becoming more important, with the new Action for Healthy Waterways regulations coming into effect in winter, 2021,” Dr Carey said. “These will prevent farmers from leaving paddocks bare for more than a month after winter forage grazing. Fortunately, the research is showing that catch crop strategies can be a profitable avenue.

“Nitrate leaching, and nitrogen loss generally, is particularly problematic in winter as non-lactating dairy cows eat large quantities of feed over a fairly short period of time to build up their body conditioning.

“Then they deposit large volumes of urine onto bare soil at a time when plant growth is minimal.

“Usually, catch crops are sown in autumn between the harvesting of the previous summer crop and a new crop in spring to conserve soil nutrients over the winter but in winter forage rotations, they need to be sown at the end of the grazing period, which is often mid-winter when soil and climate conditions are at their most difficult.

“But with the frequency of warmer and drier starts to winter increasing, hardy cereals like oats can be successfully established in the cool conditions.”

Dr Carey said oats were tolerant to the cold and would germinate at 5 degrees and above, reducing water in the soil and removing some of the nitrogen left when the cows had urinated on the ground.

“Once the soil warms, catch crops can rapidly mop-up the excess nitrogen, reducing the amount available for leaching.

“Even within a couple of months, we have seen catch crops take up as much as 40kg of nitrogen per hectare. By late November, early-sown crops for green-chop silage in both Canterbury and Southland are often reaching 8-10 t DM/ha and capturing 100-150 kg N/ha.”

The first year of the study has shown that the best results occur when the crops are sown as early as possible after grazing has been completed and are established using direct drilling methods. In Southland, researchers used a spader-drill, a relatively new piece of tillage technology, that enabled much earlier drilling than is usually possible.

“Although there is often substantial soil mineral-N available to the developing cereal crop, the second year of the study showed that monitoring is advisable to ensure its N status remains sufficient to maintain quality and maximise yield, so a modest spring nitrogen application may still be prudent,” Dr Carey said.

The SFF programme is primarily funded by MPI for three years (2018-21) and co-funded by Ballance Agrinutrients, Ravensdown, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Agricom, and Luisetti Seeds with a number of other farm and industry groups providing in-kind co-funding as well.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Tourism: Employers Welcome Back Working Holidaymakers

Tourism businesses gearing up for the return of Australian visitors from next week will be relieved to learn that they will also have access to an offshore pool of much-needed job candidates, Tourism Industry Aotearoa says. Tourism employers around ... More>>

Commerce Commission: Latest Broadband Report Confirms Improved Performance Of Premium Fibre Plans

The latest report from the Commerce Commission’s Measuring Broadband New Zealand programme shows that the performance of Fibre Max plans has improved substantially. This follows a collaboration between the Commission, its independent testing partner, ... More>>

Air New Zealand: Capital Raise Deferred

Air New Zealand has decided to defer its planned capital raise to later in 2021 allowing more time to assess the impacts of recent developments on the airline’s path to recovery. 'We’ve seen some clearing of COVID-19 clouds recently, with ... More>>

Commerce Commission: Cartel Conduct Now Punishable By Up To 7 Years’ Jail Time

Cartel conduct can now be punished with a term of imprisonment of up to 7 years, after the Commerce (Criminalisation of Cartels) Amendment Act 2019 came into effect today. Cartel conduct includes price fixing, market allocation and bid rigging (see ... More>>

Stats NZ: New Report Shows Impact Of Demands On Land In New Zealand

A new environmental report released today by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ, presents new data on New Zealand’s land cover, soil quality, and land fragmentation. The land cover data in the report, Our land 2021 , provides the most ... More>>

ALSO:

Stats NZ: March Card Spending Rebounds Despite COVID

There was a lift in retail card spending in March following a fall in the lockdown-disrupted February month, Stats NZ said today. Seasonally adjusted retail card spending rose by $53 million (0.9 percent), compared with February 2021. Visit our website to read ... More>>

PwC: Outcome Of Review Into Air New Zealand Gas Turbines Business

Air New Zealand has received the report into its Gas Turbines business from independent external advisers PwC. Air New Zealand Chairman Dame Therese Walsh says the report identified a range of effective controls in the Gas Turbines revenue contracting ... More>>