'Free paddock' offered

Federated Farmers hopes all New Zealand farmers will enter the Pasture Renewal Charitable Trust's ''Win a Free Paddock'' competition.

The competition, which runs until February 28, is aimed at encouraging more action on pasture renewal.

The competition is open to all farmers from both the dairy and sheep/beef/deer sectors. Three prizes valued at $8000 will be drawn on March 5.

The prizes consist of products and technical advice used in the pasture renewal process and can be redeemed directly from the winners' nominated rural retailer.

Online entries are encouraged at www.pasturerenewal.org.nz and entry form are also available from most rural retailers or direct from their representatives.

Pasture renewal was a core farming activity and improved pasture quality meant greater productivity, increased returns, improved animal health and more farm management options, Federated Farmers board member and New Zealand Grassland Association executive member Anders Crofoot said.

Throughout New Zealand, the total percentage of pasture renewal fell well behind the 10%-12% annually recommended by the trust. Dairy farmers renewed around 6%-7% annually and the sheep and beef sector 2%-3%.

More than 80% of dairy farmers intended renewing run-out pastures this season, regardless of their financial outlook, a dairy farm survey released recently from Cinta showed.

Farmers knew annual pasture renewal was vital to their operations, yet actions did not always follow those intentions, PRCT project manager Nicola Holmes, of Palmerston, said.