Thursday, 26 August 2021 11:55

New grass claims to take less effort to eat for more benefit

Written by  Staff Reporters
The company says the new grass encourages increased intakes for higher per head performance. The company says the new grass encourages increased intakes for higher per head performance.

Seed company Barenbrug reckons its new tetraploid perennial ryegrass will benefit both farmers their animals.

Known as 4front, it is described as a palatable and high yielding variety, which grazes well. The company says the new grass encourages increased intakes for higher per head performance and perhaps, most importantly, can improve environmental outcomes.

Barenbrug marketing manager Graham Kerr says 4front offers an exciting opportunity for farmers to reach new heights of efficiency.

"Tetraploids are fantastic nutrition for grazing animals, because they are so palatable and easy to eat, with more ME per mouthful than diploid ryegrass," he explains. "The average lactating dairy cow takes about 25,000 bites of pasture each day, while a ewe might take 35,000 bites. That's a lot of work!"

Kerr says that 4front makes it easier for animals to take each bite, reducing the amount of effort required for grazing - thus improving their daily lives.

As well as being more palatable than diploid perennial ryegrass, tetraploids are also proving very valuable for producing milk and meat from fewer stock, he explains.

"This is the way we have to start thinking for future New Zealand farming."

Kerr says following the Climate Change Commission's recent recommendations for reducing GHG emissions in NZ, tetraploids like 4front have much to offer farmers in adapting their systems.

"Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF) is a dramatic example of what can be achieved here," he adds. "It has reduced cow numbers, cut N fertiliser applications, and sharply limiting N leaching and GHG, but has similar profitability. It's done this by becoming more efficient, growing more pasture for the same N, and producing more milk per cow, coupled with significant cost savings."

Kerr believes a key element of LUDF's susccesful change is use of tetraploid ryegrass, which has now been sown in all but one paddock, because it remains palatable at higher covers.

"This doesn't sound much, but it means more photosynthesis, so the farm is growing over 1.2t DM/ha/year more - with just this one change."

With the highest DM yield of any tetraploid Barenbrug has bred previously, 4front answers farmers' need for reliable year-round growth, Kerr claims.

"Its cool season growth also has the advantage of utilising soil N at the riskiest time of the year for N leaching," he adds. "It also has more tillers than other tetraploids, for improved persistence."

Barenbrug says 4front is legume friendly and can be sown with Captain CS plantain to further reduce the risk of N leaching.

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