Future Farming Trial Update 07 Oct 2021

This project commenced June 2021. It will compare 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 Farming Fund) and Hine Rangi Trust.

Update – 7th October 2021 Current Farm Alternative Pastures Farm Low Emissions Farm
Avg Pasture Cover (kg DM/ha) excl silage pdks 2197 1978 2044
Pasture Growth (kg DM/ha/d, last 2 weeks) 46 46 45
Rotation Length (days) – avg last 2 wks 23 20 25
Area out for silage 7% 0% 8%
Cows in Milk/Peak Cows 85/85 85/85 59/59
Production/cow/day (kg MS) 1.95 1.86 1.69
Production/ha/day (kg MS) 5.92 5.63 3.50
Production/ha/season to date 356 378 228
SCC (‘000) 117 134 78
Milk FEI Zone A A A
Supplement Fed (kg DM/cow/day) 0 0 0
Purchased Supplement Fed

(kg DM/cow/season to date)

159 PKE

81 Purch Bale

118 PKE

6 Purch Bale

66 PKE

139 HG Bale

Average Body Condition Score (Milkers) 4.1 4.2 4.0
Worry Score (1 = Low, 10 = High)                   4 5 2
Nitrogen – Season to Date (kg N/ha) 105 115 0
Rainfall (mm last 2 weeks) 40 mm


  • Pasture growth eased off over the last couple of weeks. Warm rain over the last few days should get growth back into top gear
  • Fescue and cocksfoot-based pastures showed higher growth rates than the ryegrass paddocks during winter and early spring, however all pastures types have been similar in recent weeks.
  • Silage paddocks that were closed-up in early September were the cut last week. A small area on the Current farm and Low Emissions farm is now shut up and likely to be cut in the next week or two
  • Light conditioned heifers and the odd light conditioned cow continue on once-a-day milking. If they are >3.5 BCS then once mated they go back on twice-a-day
  • Sustain continues behind the cows on the Current farm at 65 kg/ha and at 50 kg/ha on the Alt Pastures farm. Pastures on the Low Emissions farm that have received no nitrogen are starting to show higher clover presence (38% vs 9% white clover in the most recent sample). We are watching for bloat on this farm