At this time of year, when temperatures are not yet ideal for ryegrass germination, there is still a good way to put delicious, leafy new grass in front of your livestock in the shortest time possible.
One Italian ryegrass can be grazed sooner than any other spring-sown pasture option.
Tabu+ is the high performance supercar of short-term pastures, sucking up excess soil nitrogen for fuel, and powering cows, sheep, beef, and deer with tonnes of top quality grass per ha.
Rated 5 star in the Dairy NZ Forage Value Index across all regions, for both 12-month feed and winter feed, it leaves other grass genetics far behind.
Pasture systems specialist Blair Cotching says as a 6 month to two year pasture option on South Island farms, little else can match it.
And using Tabu+ at this time of year in particular has a key benefit – spring-sown, it will have no seedhead for 12 months, unlike spring sown annual ryegrasses, meaning a year of leafy green growth, with superb palatability.
“It’s ideal for any farmer looking to bridge a feed gap between now and next autumn, when they might then sow winter rape,” says Blair, who heads the pasture systems team at Barenbrug.
“Equally, it sits very well in the 12 month gap between now and next spring, where you need a high performance pasture between successive winter crops.”
Post winter crop, its super-fast establishment and high yield has a very good fit with latest best practice guidelines for soil nutrient management, because it mops up excess soil N left after animals have grazed beet, kale, swedes or turnips.
“This type of mitigation approach is only going to become more important in the future,” Blair says.
“We’ve seen from the Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching research how plant species like Italian ryegrass can be used to help improve farm environmental performance.”
Another scenario where Tabu+ has proved popular is as a weed-buster in grass to grass perennial pasture renewal.
“Where old, run-out paddocks have too many grass weeds like browntop and cocksfoot to go straight to new perennial ryegrass in one go, Tabu+ helps pave the way for successful establishment of permanent pasture.”
In this case, farmers can spray out now, and direct drill Tabu+ in September or October, for approximately $500-600 per ha.
This will be ready for its first light graze approximately five weeks after sowing, weather permitting, and then provide 12 months of high yield, energy-rich grazing which is also very cost-effective, Blair says.