Rain much appreciated on farmland

21:17, Dec 05 2012

Sunday's rain was timely for Taranaki farmers.

Last week farmers in South Taranaki, where constant westerly winds were drying out pasture, were saying they needed rain, DairyNZ regional leader Katrina Knowles said.

On Sunday more than 50 millimetres of rain fell in North Taranaki.

The total was 13.5mm in South Taranaki and DairyNZ's Taranaki focus farm at Tariki had 10mm, thrilling Focus farm hosts Chris and Kathy Prankerd.

Knowles said many farmers had not made as much supplement as normal this year because pasture growth had been stop-start. As an example, growth was measured at 78kg dry matter/hectare/ day at the focus farm, only to fall to 37kg DM/ha/day the next week.

"It's hard to plan with these spikes in growth," she said. "The ground is cool, which is dictating the poor growth pattern."

Farmers could apply nitrogen to boost growth. Regular farm walks would ensure they knew what their pasture rates were and when to lengthen grazing rounds. She said herd testing was another valuable tool, providing information farmers could use to make decisions on stocking rates. They should also monitor cow condition to decide whether to supply extra feed or to switch to once-a-day milking to arrest weight loss.

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Taranaki Daily News