Future Farm Systems Trial Update 5 May 22




This project commenced June 2021. It 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, 2.1 cows/ha

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

Update – 5th May 2022 Current Farm Alternative Pastures Farm Low Emissions Farm
Avg Pasture Cover (kg DM/ha) 1935 1841 1913
Pasture Growth (kg DM/ha/d, last 2 weeks) 38 40 39
Rotation Length (days) – avg last 2 wks 25 48 24
Cows in Milk/Peak Cows 78/85 0/85 57/59
SCC 256 233
Production/cow/day (kg MS) 0.86 (OAD) 0.63 (OAD)
Production/ha/day (kg MS) 2.45 1.31
Production/ha – season to date (kg MS) 1,248 1,213 789
Milk FEI 8.1 4.1
Supplement Fed Currently (kg DM/cow/day) 2.9   PKE

1.6 Silage

0 – 2.6 PKE


1.8 Silage
Purchased Supplement Fed

(kg DM/cow/season to date)

555 PKE

160 Purch Silage

498 PKE

276 Purch Silage

67 PKE


Homegrown Silage Fed (kg DM/cow to date) 176 104 343
Home Grown Silage on hand (kg DM/cow) 0 0 278
Average Body Condition Score 4.0 4.0 4.0
Worry Score (1 = Low, 10 = High)                   4 2 5
Nitrogen – Season to Date (kg N/ha) 172 172 0
Rainfall (mm last 2 weeks) 26 mm


  • Pasture growth has lifted, especially the tall fescue/cocksfoot pastures which were previously lagging behind the kikuyu-based pastures
  • Mulching and drilling in Italian ryegrass into kikuyu-based pastures has been carrying on behind the cows. This has kept a cap on pasture covers on the Current and Low Emissions farms, however the quality of feed growing behind the mulcher is great and the Italian ryegrass is coming away nicely
  • Cows on the Low Emissions farm will be dried off immediately to ensure the condition score target of 5+ and average pasture cover of 2400 kg DM/ha is reached by calving
  • Cows on the Current farm will be milked for one more week and then dried off. The Alternative Pastures farm cows were dried off two weeks ago
  • Nitrogen will be applied on some of the Fescue/Cocksfoot pastures when we next get rain. No nitrogen will be applied to the kikuyu-based pastures yet, we don’t want kikuyu growth to swamp the Italian ryegrass seedlings coming through
  • Heifers have come back home and are getting ad-lib PKE while they clean-up areas outside the milking platform