A buzz word in today’s farming community is sustainability.
There are many factors that contribute to being a sustainable farmer such as producing more milk to survive financially without wasting water or compromising soil quality.
Farmers today cannot waste time or money on pastures that do not produce results, and more research and trials are being done to assist farmers with the difficult task of choosing the correct crops and varieties to plant.
An underestimated crop is TONIC plantain (Plantago lanceolate). It is an excellent, versatile perennial herb used in pastures for sheep and cattle.
TONIC is highly adaptable to different ground and climate types because of its deep, dense root system and a suitable 2-3 year crop option due to its genetic toughness, resulting in a positive impact on milk production when grass quality decreases in summer.
January to March is the best time to plant TONIC, since it is mainly active in autumn, winter, and early spring, but still produces in summer.
TONIC can be planted in a pure stand (8-14 kg/ha) and also in mixtures (3 kg/ha) with certain other crops.
Pure stand yields of more than 20t DM/ha in the first 11 months and a total of 41.8t DM/ha in 20 months have been recorded (based on trials conducted at Outeniqua Research Farm).
TONIC is a perfect choice to plant in mixtures because of its upright growing ability.
Research conducted in New-Zealand has proven that when TONIC is planted with ryegrass, milk solid (MS) yields can increase by up to 19%.
Another advantage is that it reduces the urinary nitrogen (N) content that cows leave behind.
Agricol, a South African seed company with the widest range of forage seeds, is currently the only company in South Africa that sells TONIC plantain.
TONIC and ryegrass is a great combination. Agricol is well known for pastures with ryegrasses such as:
• ONE50 (D)
• PROSPECT (D)
• HALO (T)
• MATHILDA (T)
• AGRIBOOST (D)
• ASSET (D)
• MAX (T)
• STRIKER (T)
By Jean-Alex Swart (Agronomist Agricol – Eastern-Cape)