Forage Brassicas Provide an Excellent ROI

“Farmers are reconsidering growing forage brassicas again” exclaimed Dan Dixon, Cereal Business Manager for Dow AgroSciences.  “These high quality feeds had been relegated to the ‘too hard’ basket due to infestations of fat-hen and diamondback moth.  With the launch of ForageMax® Herbicide, and its ease of use with Success® Neo Insecticide, forage brassicas are back on the menu! As with everything, though, there is a cost involved. Producing return-on-investment data has been part of our trial program for the past two seasons, and we can now report excellent results.”

In the summer of 2014/15 Phytogen Consulting conducted a trial on an irrigated site with a heavy population of fat-hen and  red root amaranth. ForageMax was applied to turnips at 100 mL/ha with Uptake® Spraying Oil mid-December and dry matter (DM) was assessed early March (Table 1).  The ForageMax treatment resulted in an average increase of 7 T/ha DM.

 

Table 1.  Dry matter produced in ForageMax trial at Budgeree, Victoria 2014-15

 

Untreated (T/ha)

ForageMax (T/ha)

Minimum

                          1.26

6.96

Maximum

3.90

14.61

Average

2.78

9.78

 

This trial was repeated in the summer of 2015/16 at two very weedy irrigated sites in Victoria, Stratford and Newry (Table 2). 

Table 2.  Dry matter produced in two ForageMax trials, Victoria 2015-16

Location

Untreated (T/ha)

ForageMax (T/ha)

Increase in DM (T/ha)

Stratford

5.12

11.26

6.14

Newry

8.88

17.27

8.39

 

ForageMax produced an average increase in dry matter of 7.18 T/ha across three trials and two seasons.  Considering the return-on-investment, ForageMax (100 mL/ha) cost $40/ha to produce an extra 7.18 T/ha dry matter, which equates to 179 kg/$1 spent.  This gives a much higher return-on-investment than buying in a round bale (300 kg at $60/bale) which only produces 5 kg/$1.

When converted to the metabolisable energy (ME: digestible energy less energy lost in urine, gases) of each feed component, the story becomes much more compelling.  ME is measured as megajoules (MJ) per kg of dry matter consumed, and is a measure of the amount of energy available to the animal.

Table 3.  Comparative ME of different feeds

Feed

Input costs

ME (MJ/kg DM)

ME/$1 spent

Ryegrass dominant hay1

$60/300 kg

9-10

50

Oat/wheat hay1

$180/600 kg

7-9

30

Turnips2 – leaf only

$40/7160 kg/ha

10.7

1919

Turnips2 – whole plant

11.3

2027

Turnips2 – root only

11.7

2098

Note: differences in ryegrass and cereal hay ME values relates to its growth stage when cut.  Highest ME values are achieved when the crop is cut at flowering.

This cost does not take into account the cost of sowing, any additional inputs (adjuvant, insecticide, fertiliser) or any irrigation (if required).  Similarly, the cost of transport is not included in the cost of baled hay, nor the time input in locating hay, particularly in times of feed shortages.

Brad Ness, Badeness Rural, revealed: “I usually talk about $100/ha; $40 on ForageMax, $40 on Success with a bit of Uptake and the spray contractor; so $100 investment.  We only need to get another half a tonne of dry matter per hectare to cover the cost of that. The additional benefit for our clients is they’re dealing with the weeds as well. So the crop is going to be better plus they’re not dealing with seed-setting weeds going into subsequent years. It’s about making sure the paddock is clean.”

A farmer in Princetown, Victoria agrees: “We had three times the amount of dry matter in the treated than the untreated crop. The added bonus was that we had no fat-hen trash to clean up, so it was easier to get back into sowing new pasture.”

 

References:

1 -  Agriculture Victoria, Feed Value of Selected Foodstuffs, Deborah Courtney, Rutherglen
September, 2002, AG0373.

2 – Dairy Australia, Project 3030, http://www.dairyaustralia.com.au/~/media/Documents/Pastures%20and%20feeding/Crops/Turnips.pdf