We need ‘summer safe’ crops because increasing droughts and changing rainfall patterns mean pasture is no longer a reliable feed source in late summer to mid-autumn – and this feed gap is increasingly challenging. A more diverse crop mix could provide farmers some freedom to reduce inputs like PKE.
A Rural Professionals Fund project compared a brassica monoculture with diverse mixtures of up to 21 species on a Waikato farm. The project was aimed at feeding dairy beef cows from 100kg to 200kg. It found that mixtures with dominant forage brassica were the most promising. Oats suppressed weeds, and plantain provided ground cover and additional late-February forage. Most mixtures provided similar energy yield (and costs) compared to the brassica monoculture.
Source: Summer forage crops: Options for a drystock farm based on a Waikato case study