Grass growth key to farm improvement

It is all about grass. Forget the stock, or even yourself - Farmax Ltd general manager Gavin McEwen reckons the biggest asset a farmer has on their farm is the ability to grow grass.

Farmax, which is 50% owned by AgResearch, specialises in decision support systems for pastoral farming enterprises.

Mr McEwen gave an address entitled "Converting Pasture Into Profit" during the recent PGG Wrightson seminar series at Waimate.

New Zealand was very good at producing protein, particularly safe, reliable high quality animal protein, he said.

It was estimated that in 2050, world demand for protein would have increased 85% from its present level, which was a "huge" increase.

The protein produced in New Zealand generated "a whole lot of export revenue" for the country.

About 300 million tonnes of grass each year fed those "factories" that produced that export revenue.

Export receipts from primary produce had increased this season and the main reason was that throughout New Zealand, mostly, it had been a very good season for growing grass.

In some cases, there was 30% more grass than in the previous season.

Most farmers were very efficient at converting that raw material into protein, Mr McEwen said.

On average, most dairy farms probably used about 11 tonnes of dry matter per hectare, but the potential growth was probably about 15 tonnes DM/ha.

There was a "hell of a lot" being "lost to the system".

"There is absolutely a huge area there to improve."

If that lost potential could be used, that was the biggest opportunity for increasing profitability on the farm. On most New Zealand farms, there was "absolutely" room to improve, he said.


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