Forage Value Index worth investigating for dairy farmers
Dairy farmers who have chosen to renovate perennial pastures this autumn are encouraged to use Dairy Australia's Forage Value Index (FVI) to select the right ryegrass for their farm and ensure they are making the best decisions for the year ahead.
The FVI enables farmers to select perennial ryegrass cultivars that will deliver the best possible pasture based on their location, farming system and forage needs. Dairy Australia's feedbase and nutrition lead Ruairi McDonnell said the index ranked the performance of more than 20 of Australia's most popular perennial ryegrass cultivars, relative to typical climatic conditions across the country's south-eastern dairy regions.
"By giving farmers the tools to put a really strong evidence base behind their decisions, the FVI can make a real difference to farm profitability," Mr McDonnell said.
The FVI also outlines the rankings for all cultivars in each of the five FVI seasons: autumn, winter, early spring, late spring and summer to suit the needs of individual farms.
Australian dairy farmers invest about $80 million each year on renovating pastures with perennial ryegrass cultivars.
"Before the FVI, there was very little independently-tested information on the traits and capabilities of these existing cultivars, so farmers tended to stick with what they knew," Mr McDonnell said.
"Now they have an accurate and reliable way to assess the economic value of individual cultivars, it's a lot easier for farmers to make the decision to invest in pasture renovation and increase their productivity and profitability."
To be included in the FVI, each cultivar must-have seasonal yield data from at least three, three-year trials using strict experimental protocols. Cultivars are then scored by multiplying their seasonal yield against the economic value, as determined by case studies in different dairy regions. The FVI is a key part of the decision-making process for west Gippsland dairy farmer Tom Kent. Mr Kent uses FVI information as an independent analysis of what cultivars will perform best in his farm's conditions.
"The right perennial ryegrass for our farm is crucial," he said. "We like to drive a high pasture intake for our cows to maintain a profitable farm system so the FVI allows us to choose the more profitable varieties that are more suitable to the farm.
"The FVI seasonal tables are crucial for us as to which ryegrass we are going to with. We can see what the autumn, winter, early spring, late spring and summer growth is going to be like and for any other farm looking to match grass growth with demand better it'll be a really good tool."
The FVI tables have been recently updated with the inclusion of the results of several pasture trials conducted in southern Australia. More cultivars have been included and additional trials of current cultivars have extended the scope of the FVI tables.
Visit www.dairyaustralia.com.au/FVI for more information.