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Dairy farming grazing management practices in the Waikato region

TR 2011/17

Report: TR 2011/17

Author: A Davies and K Topperwien


The purpose of this research is to understand the grazing management decisions of dairy farmers in the Waikato region, and relate that to nutrient management issues to give a picture of how nutrient management practices are, or could be, incorporated into
the various farm contexts. The focus of the research is on the winter practices that help or exacerbate nutrient management. A companion report focuses on beef and sheep farming.

In all, 36 farmers participated in the research through in-depth interviews. Interviews were undertaken in the main dairying areas of the region. A quarter of those interviewed ran grass-based production systems, while the remaining farmers imported varying amounts of feed ranging from 10-35 per cent. Herd sizes ranged from 70 to 3900 cows with a median of 470. Soils, climate, rainfall and topography varied, which lead to variation in grazing management practices.

This report presents the recommended nutrient management practices available to farmers and the actual grazing management practices of farmers from the interviews. Grazing rotation, fertiliser application, stocking rates, wintering off and standing off
practices, feed systems (including the use of grown supplements) are covered in the report. 

Dairy farming grazing management practices in the Waikato region [PDF, 316 KB]

  Acknowledgements ii
  Executive summary iii
 1 Introduction 1
 2 Background 2
 2.1 Nutrient management practices 5
3 Theoretical framework 8
4 Method 10
5 Findings 12
5.1 Grazing management 12
5.1.1 Pasture rotation and grass residuals 13
5.2 Wintering practices 14
5.2.1 Wintering on and off the farm 14
5.2.2 Wet soils management 17
5.3 Nutrient management 20
5.3.1 Nutrient budgets 20
5.3.2 Nutrient management plans 21
5.3.3 Fertiliser use and application 21
5.3.4 Effluent as part of the fertiliser regime 21
5.4 Feed supplements 25
5.4.1 Grown supplements 26
5.4.2 Purchased supplements 26
5.4.3 Feed system 27
5.5 Riparian management 28
6 Discussion 29
  References 34
  Appendix 1 - Waikato Regional Plan: Permitted Activity Rule Discharge of farm animal effluent to land 38
  Appendix 2 - Waikato Regional Plan: Permitted Activity Rule Fertiliser application 40