Your online orders cannot currently be placed through your PGW Customer Account Web login. Please contact our online support team for more information.

John Austin finds annual ryegrass suited to Waikato soil types

John Austin finds annual ryegrass suited to Waikato soil types

John Austin finds annual ryegrass suited to Waikato soil types

John Austin, a farmer and contractor based south of Te Awamutu in the Waikato, is a long-term supporter of the local PGG Wrightson team and PGG Wrightson Seeds’ tetraploid annual ryegrass Winter Star II. The ability to grow quality pasture feed for winter offers many opportunities to farmers, and for John, Winter Star II is his go-to annual ryegrass.

John runs a 600 ha cropping farm on Punui silt loams and Mairoa ash. He grows and supplies grain, maize silage, grass silage, and winter grazes cows. Integral to his business is the use of Winter Star II annual ryegrass as a break-crop between maize plantings.

For the past 12 years, John has bought in and wintered grazed dairy cows on Winter Star II, with 200 to 300 dairy cows grazing through the grass area twice before being returned home for calving. Nitrogen is then applied, and the grass is shut up and cut for silage before it is put back into maize.

John Austin Limited is a contracting business he has owned for the past 42 years, with around 800 clients covering an area of 2,400 ha. John has always had an affinity with agronomy, running replicated trials on his home farm to test the value of products, before using them himself as feed or recommending to his clients.

Comprehensive testing has built John’s confidence in Winter Star II and the benefits the annual ryegrass offers. Of note, is its speed of establishment and the amount of feed available for the grazing cows whilst still having the flexibility to be used for silage before the next crop.

As well, Winter Star II soaks up residual nitrogen left in the soil after harvesting maize for grain. Due to the differing soil types found in Waikato, finding a product that consistently performs across the region can be challenging.

John says the relationship he has with PGG Wrightson is important. “Strong partnerships are vital to my business as it allows me to offer the best products and management advice to clients. I rely on the support and technical knowledge of the Te Awamutu PGG Wrightson store team.”

It’s a two-way street, with John sharing data gained from his on-farm testing with the PGG Wrightson team and local community, often hosting on-farm field days or in-person staff visits to the trial site.

As harvesting season approaches, John plans to sow Winter Star II in autumn. The most recent on-farm replicated trial, sown at 30 kg per ha, showed Winter Star II out-yielded Tama by 1,449 kg of dry matter per ha, or 25 percent over six months.

“This sort of information is invaluable,” says John. With Winter Star II annual ryegrass, John has found a ryegrass that works for his clients and the diversity of soil types that they cover.

To learn more about Winter Star II annual ryegrass, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.