Sunday, 16 January 2011

Chicory & Plantain Downunder in NZ

I'm in very dry New Zealand awaiting the arrival of my French Discussion group from Brittany.(very impressed with the exciting range of milk products in the supermarkets..much bigger range than when I last visited NZ).

NZ has had very little rain (unlike the poor farming souls in Queensland Australia who are getting floods that are up to 15metres high!!) so since November the dairy farms have struggled for grass.This photo is of Neil & Barbara McLeans farm just north of Hamilton in the Waikato..the cows are getting some pasture plus Barkant turnips.

In preparation for the french visit to NZ I have visited DairyNZ at Hamilton & with Chris Glassey had a really good look at parts of Scott Farm.Here are plots of Chicory & Plantain being harvested.

One of the trials at Scott Farm is looking at Chicory & Plantain (both deep rooting herbs) as alternate pasture species. NZ farmer experience suggests that chicory is really good in year one but declines in year 2. Work at Massey (Prof Peter Kemp) & at DairyNZ with Julie Lee is looking at how pre grazing heights and post grazing residues are affecting Yr 2 survival.
This is interesting work which could be implemented by farmers very quickly. As we are seeing a number of NZ farmers on this study tour plus Lincoln & Cropmark in Canterbury I think we will learn much more about these two intriguing plants.
Chris Glassey from DairyNZ explained that Plantain plus Clover was very competitive with ryegrass plus clover even at a stocking rate of 3.5 cows per hectare.Here is a photo of Plantain during a very dry summer in the Waikato. It's interesting isn't it....when I first started work as a consultant both Chicory & Plantain were considered they both look very good pasture herb options for the future.

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