Future Farm Systems Update 30 May 2024



This project compares the productivity, profitability and impact on people and the environment on three farms, being:

  1. Current Farm – Kikuyu & ryegrass based pastures with up to 190 kg N/ha/annum, 3.1 cows/ha
  2. Alternative Pastures Farm – Fescue & cocksfoot based pastures, up to 190 kg N/ha, 3.1 cows/ha
  3. Low Emissions Farm – Kikuyu & ryegrass based pastures, designed to reduce methane emissions by 25% and nitrous oxide by 50%, no nitrogen applied, 2.3 cows/ha


This project is funded by DairyNZ, MPI (Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures) and Hine Rangi Trust.

Update 30th May 2024 Current Farm Alternative Pastures Farm Low Emissions Farm
Avg Pasture Cover (kg DM/ha) 2162 2143 2206
Pasture Growth (kg DM/ha/d, last 2 weeks) * 35 32 33
Rotation Length (days, last 10 days) 60 55 66
Cows in Milk/Total Cows 0/84 0/85 0/63
Production/cow season to date (kg MS/cow) 375 386 355
Production/ha season to date (kg MS/ha) 1,112 1,178 790
Supplement Offered (kg DM/cow/day) 0 PKE 2.2 0
Purchased Supplement Fed to date

(kg DM/cow)

PKE 799 PKE 764 PKE 395

Baleage 70

Homegrown Silage Fed to date (kg DM/cow) 207 263 584
Homegrown Silage on hand (kg DM/cow) 0 0 103
Average Body Condition Score (Dries) 4.30 4.25 4.23
Manager Worry Score (1 = Low, 10 = High) 5 5 5
Nitrogen to date – 2023/24 Season (kg N/ha) 188 188 0
Rainfall (last two weeks) 80    mm

*Pasture growth rates are calculated using uncalibrated platemeter readings


  • Pasture covers continue to drift up. Rotation length will be extended to 70 days on the Current and Low Emissions Farms, and 80 days on the Alternative Pastures Farm to try and lift pasture covers faster.
  • Sustain will be spread on the Current and Alternative Pastures Farms at 60 kg/ha in the next week. Kikuyu growth has slowed sufficiently now and Italian rye is strong enough to compete. This will go on around ¾ of each farm, skipping paddocks that will be grazed in the next 2 weeks.
  • Clover content is very high on the Low Emissions Farm (regularly 40 – 50% of pasture). Bloat oil is going in the troughs as a precaution.
  • Most of the recently sown tall fescue paddocks have had their first grazing. We have been grazing these for only 1-2 hours to reduce the risk of nitrate poisoning and pasture damage.
  • Cow condition has improved slightly but is behind target so PKE feeding will be reintroduced or increased on all farms to get cows up to weight by the end of June.