NSW forage value rankings released

Australian dairy farmers and producers can now make better informed decisions when selecting ryegrass cultivars following the release of Dairy Australia’s new and expanded 2023 Forage Value Index (FVI).

The FVI is a tool for farmers and producers to independently rank varieties of ryegrass according to their potential contribution to overall farm profit. It was initially released in 2017 by Dairy Australia for perennial ryegrass following similar initiatives in Ireland and New Zealand and has been updated each year since then as new varietal trial results become available, as well as being expanded to Annual and Italian ryegrass.

The 2023 FVI tables can now be easily viewed on the Dairy Australia website.

Three different FVI lists are produced for each of the three ryegrass species – perennial ryegrass, Annual ryegrass and Italian ryegrass. The data is sourced from the Pasture Trial Network – a collaboration of seed companies, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and Dairy Australia, which conducts independent trials across the country. 

New South Wales regions

Originally there were only Victorian and Tasmanian lists for the FVI, reflecting the prevalence of perennial ryegrass in those states. Expanding to annual and Italian ryegrass made the FVI more relevant for farmers in regions where short-term (annual and Italian) ryegrasses are predominantly grown.

As the dairy regions of NSW are dispersed over a wide geographical area with varying purchased supplementary feed prices and availability, it was decided to create two sets of economic values for NSW. These are a mid-north coast NSW list that is aimed at catering for farmers north of Sydney, and a south coast NSW list that caters for farmers in the Bega/Nowra area and associated regions.

The FVI value for each variety is a product of the performance value for that variety, multiplied by the economic value for that region.

In the 2023 update, all trials have been combined from across the country to create the performance values. The only difference between FVIs in different regions at present is the different economic values – therefore the rankings are broadly similar in each region. However, going forward – when more trial data is available – analysis will be done to determine if a Genotype x Environment interaction exists; whereby certain varieties do better in some trial sites, but not others.

Preliminary analysis suggests that variation in varietal performance across sites is likely to be more related to seasonal and environmental conditions in that particular trial year, and the maturity of the variety (early/mid/late), than any genetic effect. Therefore, until sufficient trial data is available, all trials across the eastern states of Australia are combined in an aggregated dataset to create the variety performance values for each region but the economic values differ between regions.

Forage quality

For all varieties in the FVI at present, ranking differences are based on dry matter yield only. Forage quality is the other major trait of interest and value in ryegrass and to include that in the FVI, analysis need to be conducted on differences in metabolisable energy between varieties from samples collected across a full growing season.

In 2023, this data will be collected for Annual and Italian ryegrass and once it is incorporated into the FVI, will improve even more the value of the FVI to farmers.

Individual trials

You can also check out the results from individual trials close to your region and consider those results in any seed purchasing decisions. These are available on the MLA website.

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