Putting sheep & beef pastures to the dryland test

Tyson, the new perennial ryegrass for sheep and beef, continues to shine for the right reasons in a challenging North Canterbury pasture trial which has now been under evaluation for four years.


Barenbrug technical development manager Janet Montgomery says with hot dry summers and cold winters, the sheep and beef farm in the Hanmer basin has been an ideal site to test a range of perennial ryegrass and mixed species pastures under dryland conditions. 


“We’re getting some great indications of persistence from that site, and we’re also recording visual yield, seedhead production, and aftermath heading. Some interesting differences are now showing up between varieties, and between species.”


Tyson, bred to help farmers finish more lambs, sooner, grows nearly 20% more DM than other leading pasture cultivars during early spring and ‘looks amazing’ at Hanmer, Janet says.


“All through spring, it’s a real stand out, all the more so when we compare it to traditional sheep and beef varieties which are 20 or 40 years old.”


Hanmer is one of 11 regional research trials Barenbrug is running north of the Waitaki River this year.


The newest of these is a sheep and beef trial to be sown in March in Scargill. This will feature existing and pipeline perennial ryegrasses plus clover demonstration strips including two of the new clover breeding lines Barenbrug is developing for sheep and beef.


“North Canterbury is a great place to do this work. It’s a hard environment, under commercial sheep and beef grazing, so we find out pretty quickly which varieties can handle the jandal,” Janet says.


Grass and clover aren’t the only species under scrutiny for sheep and beef; a dryland lucerne trial at Waiau is headed into its third winter in 2017, and once again a total of 12 cultivars, with three replicates, will be compared on both visual yield and persistence.


For more about the upper South Island research programme, phone Janet Montgomery (021 775 180) or Craig Weir.



The proposed new sheep and beef trial site at Scargill.