Think twice before buying cheap pasture seed this spring – you may well get more (or less) than you bargained for, and not in a good way.
That’s the advice to farmers looking to save money re-sowing paddocks left bare after winter crop.
With poor germination, high weed content and/or minimal endophyte, cheap seed almost always works out to be anything but cheap at the best of times, pasture experts say.
“It’s even more of a false economy when cash is tight, because farmers need all the good grazing they can get,” says Barenbrug’ Graham Kerr. “No-one can afford paddocks to fail this spring.”
His advice? “Concentrate on sowing a smaller area of land, better. Use proprietary pasture seed which has guaranteed purity, germination and endophyte, so you know what you’re really planting, and do the best job possible of getting it into the ground so it establishes well.”
‘Saving’ $50/ha on cheap seed can end up costing much more, and not just in terms of a poor result.
New proprietary pasture varieties grow at least 2-3 tonnes more DM/ha than old varieties and it’s better feed too, with higher ME and improved palatability.
New varieties can be re-grazed sooner, have better seasonal growth and are easier to manage.
Because of this superior performance, new varieties can pay for themselves quicker than many people realise, meaning the rest of the life of the pasture is all profit.
Cultivars like Trojan are proven as they come backed by years of research and performance data. As well, the Dairy NZ Forage Value Index (FVI) illustrates the value that they can deliver on farm.
The FVI shows that in the South Island using a cultivar like Trojan can provide at least $335/ha extra profit for every extra t DM/ha produced over older varieties.
Graham says seed merchants and suppliers know farmers are faced with difficult economic choices this spring, and are keen to help wherever possible.
“We’re more than happy to work with farmers on their re-sowing requirements and help identify the best options that will make their money and their pastures go further.”