The 2024 edition of the PPI is out, but what do farmers want in a grass variety?
The Pasture Profit Index (PPI) is the tool most widely used by Irish farmers to select grass varieties for sowing each year. The PPI contains a wealth of information on each variety available including annual DM yield production, seasonal production, forage quality and suitability to silage-making. However, many farmers select varieties based on their annual DM yield production figures.
Selecting varieties solely on their yield potential is a risky strategy because although DM yield is important, experience shows us that some of these highly productive varieties can be difficult to manage at different stages of the growing season. For example, they can be difficult to graze out efficiently or produce large surpluses at certain times of the year. Difficulty grazing and large surpluses are often closely linked!
Ideally, we want a grass variety that yields consistently throughout the year so we can manage the supply of quality grass and match it with animal demand. Unfortunately, this perfect variety doesn’t exist, so we generally sow mixtures of varieties to get balanced production and quality throughout the year.
It is important to examine and compare all the traits listed on the PPI and select a mixture of varieties with the traits that best suit your system requirements. For example, a grazing mixture should be made of varieties with good spring and autumn growth, quality and high utilisation – not just high annual yield.
The grazing utilisation trait is based on a star rating from 1 to 5 with 5-star varieties having the best grass utilisation.
The grazing utilisation trait is a recent addition to the PPI and is probably the most important trait to consider when selecting varieties for a grazing mixture. This trait indicates how well a variety is grazed out. Having varieties with excellent utilisation is not only important for animal performance, these high utilisation varieties tend also to be easier managed, achieving low residuals, less stem regrowth and generally requiring little if any topping. This leads to potentially big savings on time, money and efficiency at farm-scale.
Nashota added to DLF’s 5-star range.
DLF had the first two 5-star varieties when the trait was introduced in 2021 with Xenon and Aspect topping the charts. Now we can add Nashota, a late tetraploid, to our 5-star range.
All three of these 5-star grazing varieties come together in DLF 4N Grazer – the top-selling 5-star grass mixture.
Sowing 4N Grazer could make a significant difference to the amount of grass utilised on your farm. It is estimated that every extra ton of DM utilised is worth €181/ha through increased output and reduced production costs.
If you would like more information on selecting varieties and mixtures for your farm then contact one of the team.