Thursday, July 7, 2022

Cultivar index breakthrough

In the past year, industry-good body DairyNZ launched a range of new and valuable tools and resources for farmers but it reckons a highlight was the Forage Value Index (FVI), the result of collaboration between DairyNZ and the New Zealand Plant Breeding and Research Association.

For the first time, farmers have been told they have an independent, profit-based and region-specific evaluation system for perennial ryegrass cultivars.

The launch of this index was a significant and valuable milestone for the future profitability of the dairy industry in New Zealand, says Dr Bruce Thorrold, DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for productivity.

The FVI is a rating system for pasture grasses based on economic performance that provides an independent science and profit-based evaluation system for perennial ryegrasses. It allows farmers to understand which grasses are likely to give the best financial returns for their conditions.

The dairy industry has good systems for assessing the merits of dairy cattle and big advances have been made. However, farmers and researchers had been concerned for some time that evaluation and performance of forages had not kept up.

DairyNZ regards the launch of FVI as a breakthrough and the supporting science will provide better information to enable farmers to make good decisions and improve farm profitability and competitiveness, Bruce says.

He accepts there are still deficiencies in the system, because there is only limited dry matter production information available on a range of perennial ryegrass cultivars. Persistence and nutritive value information will be added over time as it becomes available through exciting new collaborative DairyNZ and NZ Plant Breeding and Research Association initiatives, he says.

“This is just the start of what we plan to develop into a system which better organises cultivar testing, with agreed presentation of cultivar data. This will greatly reduce the present confusion around pasture cultivar data.”

A significant amount of testing to underpin the DairyNZ FVI is under way and it’s hoped that over the next five years the index will become a world-class resource.

More articles on this topic