High production grazing

RAGT has been at the forefront of the lucerne resurgence in New Zealand – today it’s the backbone of many high production grazing and cutting systems.

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Good management maximises production

Known for its high feed value, fast growth rates, and excellent animal performance, lucerne is a reliable perennial feed option. Add to that drought tolerance and persistence and it’s well ahead of many other forage options. Lucerne’s ability to provide quality feed to growing animals at crucial times of the year has enabled many farmers to change their management practices to the extent that they’re supplying markets or finish stock they once thought unachievable. To get the real benefits lucerne can add to a grazing and cutting system, good management is critical – when well managed, lucerne is hard to beat. Its water use efficiency and ability to access moisture and nutrients at depth are some of its core strengths. Generally established in the spring, warming soil temperatures and conserved soil moisture will help ensure good establishment. It is critical that there is a sufficient period of fallow before sowing lucerne to ensure good soil moisture and maximum opportunity to control weeds before planting. It’s advisable to use a break crop such as a brassica or a cereal before planting lucerne. This gives you time to eliminate stubborn weeds such as couch, horehound, dandelion and hieracium, with a greater chemical spectrum before the crop is planted. A high weed burden will negatively affect the productivity and persistence of any lucerne crop, and it’s important to keep weeds in check from day one as well as throughout the life of the stand, with an annual winter spray.

Choosing the right variety

There is a wide range of lucerne varieties available in New Zealand. One of the key things to consider when you’re looking to select a variety is what you plan to be using it for: grazing, silage/hay or both. Not all varieties are best suited to grazing. Lucerne varieties are rated according to their dormancy. Consider the dormancy rating and ensure the majority of dry matter production will occur at a time that is well matched to the feed demands of your farming system. The lower the dormancy rating, the less active the plant is during winter. Traditionally low dormancy varieties, with ratings of 3 and 4, are used in cold, inland environments, while those with less winter dormancy, with ratings 5 to 10, are grown in more coastal areas with more benign winters. RAGT can provide experienced advice to help you get the best from lucerne systems.


Pest and disease ratings
Blue Green Aphid  Stem Nematode  Spotted Alfalfa Aphid  Phytophthora Root Rot  Pea Aphid  Bacterial Wilt  Fusarium Wilt  Colitotrichum Crown Rot
Resistance ratings
Low Resistance (6-14%) Moderate Resistance (15-30%) Resistance (31-50%) High Resistance (>50%)