A Grass for Dry Climates

Several parts of the country often suffer from very dry conditions, and some farmers have question whether their current pastures are the best for maximising production and income during these periods. Even irrigated regions suffer from dry weather, with many farmers running out of water for periods through summer and autumn.

There are several pasture options available to reduce the impact of drought or irrigation restrictions.

Ryegrass is a successful grass when there is good summer rainfall, or unlimited irrigation, but is not always the best pasture base in other climates. A strong endophyte like Happe will improve the performance in these climates, where insect pressure often combines with drought to ruin pastures.

Farmers can already increase the heat tolerance and summer production of their pastures by using a very closely related grass, tall fescue (Lolium arundinaceum).  DLF’s Tower tall fescue is now successfully being used on dairy, sheep and beef farms, with farmers reporting that it is just as easy to manage as ryegrass with similar or better animal performance, but with increased production and persistence.

With our climate becoming warmer, and our continued variation in summer rainfall, more advisors to farms should be discussing this slight change to practices that will reap rewards for years to come.