Dargaville research informs forum

by Andy Bryenton

When dairy industry representatives gather at the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum on February 18 in Whangarei, information on beating adverse conditions with supplementary feed will come from here in the Kaipara.

It’s the first of five such symposia to be held across New Zealand tackling the issue, and the Northland Agricultural Research Farm (NARF) in Dargaville is at the core of research.

The trial evaluates the production, environmental and financial outcomes of supplement feed on dairy farms. Currently, underway at the Dargaville-based research farm, this study is in its second year, comparing three 28ha pasture-based systems with varying stocking rates and feeds. The Supplement Use in a Variable Climate research reveal is only one part of the forum. The event will also host economist Cameron Bagrie, DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle and strategy and investment leader Dr Bruce Thorrold.

Northland Dairy Development Trust chair Terence Brocx says the supplement research being presented explores three systems. One is pasture only, the second is pasture and PKE, and the third is pasture and PKE plus other supplements.

“This research is really relevant for farmers in Northland. We farm in such challenging weather conditions. This work will help inform our decision-making in terms of which option is the most environmentally-friendly and economical,” says Terence.

“The trial also tests and demonstrates options to manage feed shortages; through once-a-day milking, early culling, drying off and using supplements to fill feed gaps.”

Along with the supplement research, Northland’s forum will also present a recent NDDT trial looking at responses to nitrogen, sulphur and potassium spring fertiliser.

It was done in response to farmers asking whether they should apply Ammo or urea in early spring each year.