Farmers feed into FVI results

7 August 2020

“It’s good to know the trial will give farmers realistic data that they can trust…”

As DairyNZ continues testing the Forage Value Index (FVI) through validation trials, farmer input is proving hugely valuable.

Since 2012, DairyNZ and research partners have been developing the FVI to  provide farmers with a  guide on selecting pasture types to best suit their farm while maximising productivity and profit. The next stage of this work, the FVI Validation (FVIV) trial, is being carried out at DairyNZ’s Scott Farm, near Hamilton.

FVIV project leader Dr Jane Kay says the validation trial involves five experimental high-ranking cultivar farmlets (pastures sown with high-ranking FVI perennial ryegrass cultivars) and five farmlets of low-ranking cultivars. The 10 farmlets are being compared across all aspects of pasture and animal performance and, ultimately, profit.

Seasonal variations

Dr Laura Rossi, who is analysing the  FVIV experiment as  part of her post-doctoral studies, says the first two summers of the experiment were dry (extremely so, in 2019/20). Although the two cultivars began to diverge in growth rates as predicted, with the low FVI cultivars growing more in spring, and the high FVI cultivars growing more in winter and the start of summer, the

net gain in pasture eaten for the high versus low FVI systems was less than expected.

The severe dry conditions restricted any additional growth  from the high FVI cultivar during summer/autumn, says Laura. That means there was less opportunity to reduce supplement costs post-Christmas, or gain days in milk from high FVI pastures as predicted.

Farmer input

“Having local farmers offer our project team their advice in relation to the FVIV Scott Farm trial has added greatly to the rigour of this work,” says Jane. “They’re also keen to see the experiment continue over multiple years, as they say there’s no such thing as an ‘average’ business season – or farm – in their districts.”

One of those Waikato farmers is Te Miro’s Alistair Hall, who says: “It’s good to know the FVIV trial will give farmers realistic data they can trust and that’s been well proven in a realistic farming environment, so we can make re-grassing decisions suited to our farming systems.”

Another member of the farmer advisory group, John Assen from Taupiri, agrees: “It’ll also mean my investment into sowing high-producing cultivars won’t be money down the drain.

Further validation of growth rates will also enable us to better forecast our expected pasture production and more closely match feed demand with pasture supply.”

Next steps

The FVIV trial will continue for at least one more full season. Upon completion, aspects of the FVI system may be adjusted to better reflect the  value of  genetic gains in ryegrass to New Zealand dairy farms.

Find out more about the FVI project at

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