Winter Crop Cultivation Trial

Objective

To gain real, practical on farm information (in Southland conditions) about different aspects of winter grazing (e.g., cultivation, crop, soil condition and animal welfare), to support farmers in Southland (and across New Zealand) meet the upcoming Essential Freshwater Regulations.

Project Description

To test whether utilising alternative crop establishment methods to conventional cultivation (e.g. direct drilling, strip tillage, air seeding, precision drilling etc), for fodder beet, swedes and kale, improves soil structure and strength, thereby reducing pugging and improving animal welfare during winter grazing. 
 
Working with the Southern Dairy Hub, the Hedgehope Makarewa Catchment Group has extended this pilot study onto 10 commercial farms across Southland. 
 
The monitoring looked at many aspects such as animal welfare - lying times, pugging depth, animal behaviour, environmental effects - visual observations of run-off, effect on soil structure, crop utilisation, dry matter yields, soil moisture infiltration and lastly the financial aspects in terms of cost analysis. 

Next Steps

It is hoped that this pilot study will be expanded over the coming years to get a fully controlled trial.  This year’s work has gathered a huge amount of data, which is now being looked at. 

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