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Beef and sheep farming – grazing management practices in the Waikato region

TR 2011/16

On this page: abstract, table of contents

Report: TR 2011/16

Author: Angela Davies


Nutrient management is a focus for the Waikato Regional Council due to its role in managing the region‟s water quality. Nutrients from the land seep into groundwater, flow into waterways and lead to reduced water quality. Monitoring shows that nutrient concentrations in waterways are increasing across intensively farmed areas in the region.

Related to the issue of increased nutrients in waterways, are soil compaction and excessive fertility in the region‟s soils. Stocking pressure can lead to pugging of soils. Pugging results in compaction of the pore spaces in the soil so that water logging can occur leading to nutrients and bacteria running off into waterways. Excessive fertility results when more fertiliser is added to soils than plants can use. This extra fertiliser can leach into waterways or get washed off with soil particles when it rains (Environment Waikato, 2008). These processes mean that there is a strong connection between beef and sheep farmers‟ grazing management practices and nutrient management.

The purpose of this research is to understand the grazing management decisions of beef and sheep farmers‟ in the Waikato region, and relate that to nutrient management issues to give a picture of how nutrient management practices are, or could be, incorporated into the various farm contexts. Those farmers providing dairy support through dairy heifer grazing or wintering dry dairy cows were considered to be part of the beef and sheep sector as these activities are on the increase (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, 2011b). The focus of the research is on the winter practices on farm that help or exacerbate nutrient management. See Davies and Topperwien (2011) for the companion report on dairy farmers.

Beef and sheep farming – grazing management practices in the Waikato region

Table of contents


  Acknowledgement i
  Executive summary iv
1 Introduction 1
2 Background 2
2.1 Nutrient management practices 3
3 Theoretical framework 7
4 Method 9
4.1 Sample structure 12
5 Results 13
5.1 Grazing practices 13
5.2 Winter management 15
5.2.1 Wet soils management 15
5.2.2 Winter cropping management 18
5.3 Riparian management 19
5.4 Soil conservation and afforestation 21
5.5 Nutrient management 21
5.5.1 Nutrient budgets, nutrient management plans and soil testing 21
5.5.2 Fertiliser application 22
5.6 Feed supplements 25
5.6.1 Grown supplements 25
5.6.2 Purchased supplements 27
5.6.3 Feed system 27
6 Discussion 27
  References 32
  Appendix 1 35
3 Water Module 35
3.9 Non-Point Source Discharges* 35
3.9.4 Implementation Methods - Non-Point Source Discharges 35 Permitted Activity Rule - Fertiliser Application 35
  Appendix 2 37