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Thursday, 22 April 2021 08:55

A focus on pasture resilience

Written by  Staff Reporters
Pasture Symposium organising committee chair David Chapman believes it will feature the best range of speakers on pasture resilience every brought together in NZ. Pasture Symposium organising committee chair David Chapman believes it will feature the best range of speakers on pasture resilience every brought together in NZ.

Pasture resilience will be the key theme of this year's Pasture Symposium, which is being held in the Waikato during May.

Organising committee chair David Chapman says the event will arguably feature the best range of speakers on this topic ever brought together in NZ, who will share their observations and latest findings at the one-off Resilient Pastures Symposium (RPS).

He says it's no coincidence that the presenters align so closely with what he describes as commonly-voiced suggestions about the future of NZ grassland farming.

"It's all about the soil and/or the farm system. That's where the answers lie."

Chapman, principal scientist at DairyNZ, says speakers were not invited to the RPS solely on the basis of this theme - but there's a notable overlap.

Included in the programme, for example, are presentations from two Northland farmers who are "passionate pasture people". Both Allister McCahon and Murray Jagger will share their experiences and thoughts about where to next for Northland pastures.

Meanwhile, the RPS will also feature two climate change and agronomy/systems experts from Australia. Sydney University's Professor Yani Garcia and Dr Brendan Cullen, University of Melbourne, will draw parallels between Australia and NZ.

Speakers covering trends and prospects on this side of the Tasman include NZ environment and climate change researchers Liz Keller, GNS Science; MPI's Gerald Rhys; and Cecile de Klien and Sarah Mansfield from AgResearch.

NZ soil experts Waikato University's Louis Schipper and AgResearch's David Houlbrooke and Mark Shepherd wil talk about management of soil fertility, soil structure and soil carbon for pasture resilience. Their soils presentations will be backed up by practitioners Warwick Catto of Ballance Agri-nutrients and Ants Roberts from Ravensdown.

Agronomy and farm systems researchers Massey University's Danny Donaghy, Lincoln University's Derek Moot and David Stevens from AgResearch will dissect systems options. Other speakers to feature include pasture-focused farmers like Corrigan Sowman from Golden Bay, alongside consultants Jeremy Savage, Macfarlane Rural Business; Chris Lewis, BakerAg; and Phil Journeaux, AgFirst.

The symposium will wrap up with a workshop session, to distil what farmers, industry leaders and scientists identify as critical directions for future pasture research and development.

NZ Grassland Association president Warren King, senior scientist at AgResearch, notes that a collaborative group approach to tackling pasture persistence at the end of the NZGA's 2011 symposium led to significant new pasture R&D and industry-led initiatives, including the influential DairyNZ Forage Value Index.

The RPS is being held by the NZ Grassland Associateion. Register online at www.grassland.org.nz.

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