Picking cropping paddocks early and treating them right is one of the secrets of an amazing Barkant turnip yield on Stuart Davison's Te Awamutu dairy farm. He’s been getting 20 tonne DM/ha (sown at 3 kg Barkant/ha).
He says, "it’s important to do the right things at the right time to get the yields I'm getting."
“We do intensive spraying with regular insecticides and post emergent weed sprays, which helps the yield quite a bit. Some people plant and shut the gate, but I’m at the other end of the scale. I try to do everything on time and the yield difference is dramatic."
“It’s rolling land. It’s not an easy farm and not every paddock is cultivatable. We pick the right cropping paddocks to do a good job and we pick them early – I’ve already got the next turnip paddocks lined up now.”
Stuart has 660 Friesian cows on what he calls a high input farm with new summer cropping. He needs high quality, high-protein feed during the summer months particularly during January, February and March when the grass growth and quality has greatly decreased. Barkant provides cost effective high-protein feed at a time no other forage can and after feeding it, Stuart notices an increase in milksolids production and thus profitability.
“We’re meant to be summer safe but are tending towards summer dry at the moment – summer cropping fills the feed gap for us and gives us cheap feed over summer when we need it. We’ve measured 17-20 tonnes DM/ha – ripper crops, full of protein and good energy to keep them milking. We’ve been able to flat line our milk production
over a time when we historically have a drop.”
The overall production is looking likely to have picked up by 9-10% by the end of the year, solely due to the cropping change. “We have been constantly ahead every month. I was doing the feed budget and seeing the results from the dry summer the year before – the cheaper feed made sense really. You can’t really beat the prices – $0.07 a kilogram – you can’t buy feed for that. Grass isn’t even that cheap.” Stuarts neighbour, his father down the road and other farming mates have started growing Barkant turnips also.
“We’re seeing them more and more around here. There are a lot of people doing it. I farmed across the road from here previously, which had Barkant turnips, so I’m learning from experience and improving what I’m doing with them.”
While the farm also plants Sorghum, a summer tropical grass that has its own fit in the farm system, Stuart says nothing keeps up with his turnips in summer.
“We have 16 ha this year and we’re putting more in next season – closer to 24 ha. It will definitely be Barkant. You can’t beat it.”