NPR - Utilising Lucernes Potential For Dairy Farming (p227-235)
New Zealand farming systems are based on ryegrass and white clover pastures. Production from these pastures under irrigation does not get much better than 17,000 kg of dry matter per hectare per year. This response relies on irrigation and nitrogen applications. Future potential lies in exploring species changes, or cropping to grow more dry matter. This paper discusses using lucerne to alter the farming system in irrigated dairy farming. Lucerne has been shown to grow up to 24,000 kg dry matter per year in irrigated trial situations.
Lucerne does not require nitrogen applications and has shown to be beneficial in assisting with nitrate removal. Projected budgets show a lucerne system can generate high returns.
However a change of this magnitude will require changes to farming systems. It is very important to manage lucerne correctly. Farmer experience has shown that it is not difficult to change and the potential benefits are high.
Keywords: lucerne, Medicago sativa, dairy farming, farm system