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Vast perennial ryegrass a game changer for North Waikato dairy farmer

Vast perennial ryegrass a game changer for North Waikato dairy farmer

Vast perennial ryegrass a game changer for North Waikato dairy farmer

To improve productivity and the quality of stock on-farm, investing in pasture renewal helps ensure the best results are achieved.

Ross Laing from R&T Pastoral Limited runs a System 3 dairy farm in Waerenga, North Waikato where he winter milks 520 Friesian cows.

For Ross, planning ahead with Jon Nutt, his PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative, helps him consider what his paddocks will look like in the coming months. Ross renews up to 20 percent of them every year. Together, Jon and Ross identify the worst-looking paddocks in autumn and put them into maize in spring. Come autumn, these paddocks are then put into a tetraploid perennial ryegrass and white clovers for the following autumn.

For the past 10 years, Ross has used Base tetraploid perennial ryegrass with AR37 endophyte. Base AR37 has provided Ross with good results, with the only weakness being that, if grazing is not managed well, it can be overgrazed in drought conditions given the palatability of tetraploids.

When Jon suggested planting Vast tetraploid perennial ryegrass with AR37 endophyte, the latest tetraploid from PGG Wrightson Seeds, Ross was eager to see how it would stack up against Base. Last autumn they ran a trial paddock and it went so well that in autumn 2024, 20 percent of the farm will be planted in Vast.

Ross believes that even the smallest percentage increase in animal performance can make a huge difference. As Vast has an extremely late heading date, which boosts late seasonal pasture quality, for a winter milker like Ross who needs to ensure quality feed for his stock, this is a plus.

Vast’s feed profile suits dairy systems as well as beef and lamb finishing, providing quality feed during ewe flushing and mating.

Including Vast into Ross’ pasture renewal programme has also reduced the decline in the quality and quantity of his paddocks in another form. Rust, a common fungi infection in ryegrass, has the ability to decrease growth rates, palatability and animal intake. Conversely, with a higher rust tolerance, Vast will not wane in the same way.

Jon recommends Vast to his farmers for several reasons. He says this dense grass performs well in the Waikato, under substantial climatic and insect pressures.

Since Jon’s recommendation, Ross has been impressed with Vast. “It did what the brochure said it was going to do.”

He also says the extremely late heading date and low aftermath heading have been a game changer. “When everything else has gone to seed, Vast is still performing to a high quality into summer, while other grasses are declining in quality and quantity.”

Learn more about Vast tetraploid perennial ryegrass by contacting your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.