Over a six-year period, DairyNZ is investing $450,000 of the farmers' levy annually in a research programme called Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching (FRNL).
Here, we highlight some key discoveries made about catch crops and fodder beet.
In Canterbury, FRNL has been investigating the potential yield and reduced risk of nitrate leaching from using oats as a catch-crop after winter-grazed kale.
We found catch crops can:
* Reduce soil mineral nitrogen and nitrate (N) leaching by about 30 per cent
* Increase dry matter (DM) yield on the same land by 6-12t DM/ha annually, depending on the season and sowing date
* Cut the cost of growing DM by 3c/kg DM.
That's good news but, before sowing a catch crop, farmers should consider whether their farm has reliable summer rain or irrigation for establishment of the next main crop.
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